Brothers battle for US trampoline spot
In 2008, Steven Gluckstein flubbed a trick in the US Olympic trampoline finals, missing a trip to the Beijing Games. Now, what stands between him and a trip to the London Games is another Gluckstein: his younger brother Jeffrey.
"I am not going to let my little brother beat me this year," says 21-year-old Steven Gluckstein.
"Hopefully my best is just a little better than his."
They live together in their parents' house in New Jersey and train together at a nearby gym, where they also work together overseeing trampoline birthday parties for kids to earn money.
But rarely mentioned amid this togetherness is their high-stakes battle. Imagine Eli and Peyton Manning squaring off in the Super Bowl, or Venus and Serena Williams in the US Open final.
Here, however, the winner becomes an Olympian, while the loser remains a guy who bounces on trampolines.
With two competitions left to determine the male US Olympic trampoline jumper, he leads his 19-year-old brother by a narrow six-tenths of a point.
So far, the family home has managed to accommodate two Olympic wannabes, though their mother, Loretta Gluckstein, admits "things can get pretty tense around here."
"Fortunately we haven't had the Jerry Springer-type moment within the household," says their father, Steven Gluckstein Sr., a Wall Street money manager.
Trampoline became an Olympic sport in 2000 and awards one gold medal for men and one for women.
America has won no medals in trampoline. Even though the apparatus was invented during the 1930s in Iowa, trampoline remains largely a backyard pastime akin to swinging on a swing set.
Steven won the US championship in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, however, his performances began to slip as his younger brother climbed in the rankings.
By all accounts, Jeffrey is the more natural gymnast.
"He's always had this catlike ability to find his balance in the air and to know exactly how to move his body, while Steven has had to work at it," says their father.
The final trial competition to decide who will go to the Olympics will occur in June.
Loretta Gluckstein swears she doesn't root for one son over the other. But, she adds, "Steven being older, I think this is his time. He's worked so hard. Jeffrey, he's young."
"It's going to be bittersweet," their father says. "The best we can hope for is one makes the team and the other becomes the alternate." Even then, he notes, only the winner would get to march in the Opening Ceremony and live in the Olympic village.