Champion jump-roper doesn't skip a beat

The way 15-year-old Adele Rosenthal describes some of her past injuries, you’d think she’s a tomboyish pigskin junkie – and not the powder-puff kind.

“I once injured my radial nerve when I landed on my wrist,” said the Los Altos High School freshman, motioning up and down her forearm. “I hurt my back, I take a pounding on my knees.”

But those aren’t football injuries. She’s describing the ups and downs of jumping rope.

Wait, what?

The energetic Rosenthal has quietly – or maybe not, when you hear her talk a mile a minute – become a nationally ranked jump-roper as part of the Santa Clara-based Sol Jumpers, a team that competes in USA Jump Rope competitions.

Last year she earned her spot as the top jumper in the state in her age group and has been ranked alongside the top-10 jumpers in the country for the past several years.

Rosenthal is set to try out Thursday for a spot in the regional USA Jump Rope Championships, scheduled March 24 in Pasadena. A successful effort next month could propel her ranking even higher.

“Jump roping is so unique, and I’m not a normal person by any means,” the former tennis standout said before starting a two-hour practice last week. “I like to find things that aren’t normal.”

And the way she jumps rope is anything but average.

First, there are the speed challenges, in which Rosenthal tries to move the rope under her feet as many times as she can within various time parameters.

As the rope – which, for speed, is heavier and made of metal wires – makes its hundreds of rotations per minute, she rapidly yet carefully taps her feet up and down to complete the move.

Stand back.

Then there’s the freestyle component, which looks something like gymnastics and dancing all at once. The splits, jumps, turns and crosses common during her routine might seem random, but they all work together in the name of creativity.

“There’s an element of power – you go down low, do handstands, pushups,” Rosenthal said, adding, “I love coming up with new tricks. ... It’s an extreme sport.”

Rosenthal said she developed a passion for the rope after watching her father jumping as rehab after he tore his deltoid ligament – and because, she claims, she was sick of losing tennis matches.

Her mom, Shelley, said Adele practices every day for hours after school. On weekends, she’ll jump rope from 10 a.m. until sundown. Shelley said the family has even converted their living room into a gym so that Adele can practice there, too.

So what’s the endgame?

Most colleges don’t have jumping teams. It’s not a professional sport. And there aren’t enough countries that offer it competitively to include it in the Olympics.

Oddly enough – but perhaps fittingly – Adele said “it would be really cool” to someday join Cirque du Soleil, where her roping talents could yield a paycheck.

But if for some reason that doesn’t work out, you might see her on a televised talent show, she suggested.

While Shelley said she supports her daughter’s endeavors and is glad Adele found something she’s passionate about, Shelley advises Adele to consider pursuing other interests as well.

Easier said than done.

“I love it,” Rosenthal said of jump roping. “It’s all I do.”

See a video slideshow of Rosenthal in action on Town Tube here.

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