Frederictonians reach new heights at Canada Games

Stills of Fredericton residents Dexter Richard and Eric Davis, receiving the gold medal for Trampoline Jumping for the 2023 Canada Games. (Submitted: Phil Matusiewicz)

Eric Davis and Dexter Richard worked hard to get gold medals for New Brunswick at the Canada Games held in Prince Edward Island.

The two Fredericton natives earned the medals in their sport, synchronized trampoline, which many people may not know much about. 

Synchronized trampoline is like the synchronized diving you watch at the Olympics: two teammates performing flips in time with each other to score points. However, instead of going into an Olympic-sized pool, Eric and Dexter jump on trampolines that are less than 50 inches around. 

For the amount of practice and working out over the years to perfect their craft on the trampoline, a routine is less than 30 seconds. 

“You complete a full routine of 10 skills, but the goal is to try and stay perfectly in line with your partner as you’re jumping, while your partner is on a different trampoline [outside of your view],” said Davis.

With all the practice and competitions over the years, it all started with a decision. 

Davis saved up and bought his own trampoline when he was 10 years old. 

“I started doing flips, and my parents saw me and they were like ‘man, that’s really dangerous. We’re gonna get you in classes, so you can do that really well,’ and I’ve been in them ever since,” said Davis. 

Davis, 16, is still in high school, while Richard, 21, is in his fourth year of university at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, studying kinesiology. 

Richard was around the same age as Davis when he figured he wanted to do bigger tricks than he was able to with slopestyle snowboarding. His parents thought gymnastics was a good idea, but Richard insisted on something else. 

That’s when he found trampoline. 

“From there I just liked it a lot more and just continued with it,” said Richard. 

The pair trained at the same gym, and as a junior coach, Richard would provide support to Davis and his age group. In 2016, when Davis’s group became more experienced and older, they joined Richard’s group to train and work together.

This grew their friendship and partnership. 

Davis and Richard were two of the highest scorers for their groups at nationals last year, and the scoring determines who will be partners in synchro for both male and female categories.

Despite the large age gap between the two, anyone from level three to senior can go and compete at the Canada Games as equals if they’re 14 to 21 years old.

Luckily for the partners, they fit right in. 

“I thought it was fantastic,” said Davis of the games. 

“The experience of getting to walk around and see so many other sports and sports I didn’t even really know like wheelchair basketball and ringette. I definitely learned a lot more about sports in general and I got to meet a lot of really cool people from our sport in particular.”

Richard participated in the 2019 Canada Games in Red Deer, Alta, however, he was able to appreciate and experience more this time around because he was familiar with the events, and the organizers planned more activities for the athletes when they weren’t performing.

Ping pong, swimming and spike ball were just some of the activities, although one of the staples of the Canada Games, the pins, were a hit. 

“I think I got a pin from each province and territory,” said Richard. 

Both would go around and talk with other athletes and trade pins for their collections, which ultimately is the goal to get the athletes talking. 

“Newfoundland and Labrador was fantastic. Their team in particular is very welcoming and supportive. I think it just matched really well with how our team went,” Davis said. 

The pair didn’t just receive a pin from other provinces and territories; they also received one each for capturing the gold medal in synchronized trampoline, of which they thought they didn’t have a chance.  

“When we were going into finals, our score in prelims [placed us sixth]. So we thought the best we could really hope for was probably a third place,” said Davis. 

This was after the pair had performed an intricate routine of flips in the prelims, which they thought was the best routine they had ever done. After finding out their placement, they went into the final run with a positive mind and without expectations. 

For their last performance, the 30-second run was “as good as we could have hoped for,” said Davis, while Richard said it was perfect. 

In synchro trampoline, the judges base the scores off of placement on the mat, time spent in sync, execution and difficulty of flips. The pair thought it best to tone down the difficulty to not sacrifice other aspects, which ultimately, was the deciding factor in their first place finish. 

“I remember high-fiving my coach as soon as I got off and him telling me ‘that’s the best one I’ve ever seen,’” said Davis.

As the pair were shocked to finish first ahead of Saskatchewan and Alberta, they went up to the podium to collect their gold medals, their pin, and in doing so, made New Brunswick proud as the first pair from the province to win gold in synchronized trampoline.