"I just try to make my cut so fast you can't see it," Carter explains. "Then I pop, quick. I'm up, like in a blast. I don't know why I've gone so high lately. I just do what Mr. Dean tells me."
Carter's technique is basically a variation on the Fosbury Flop, used by most notable modern high jumpers. The biggest exception has been Yashchenko, a straddler. In Dean's scheme, looking at the bar is taboo. "I teach Jerome to execute the components of the jump rather than focus on the bar," he says. "The bar will take care of itself." It's a theory based on the teachings of his mentor, a trumpet teacher in Manhattan, Carmine Caruso. "He taught us," says Dean, "that if we didn't think about stretching up to a high note, we'd be able to just blow down on top of it."
Some think the theories Dean trumpets have little to do with Carter's success. Veteran high jumper Dwight Stones, for one, sneers at Carter's "poor form." "Did you see my parabolic curve?" he said proudly at the Millrose Games. "I've got a smoother peak height that takes place over a longer interval. Carter may clear the bar by inches, but how much on the way up and how much on the way down? He has a much narrower margin for error."
But Stones's margin of error on that occasion, his first head-to-head competition with Carter, was the narrower. He may have the shapeliest parabolic curve in high jumping, but each time he cleared the bar it wobbled vigorously. Carter topped it with room to spare. At 7'6�", Stones leaned into the bar on all three tries, knocking it off with his shoulders. Most of Carter cleared it, but his heels got caught on the follow-through. With fewer misses, Carter edged Stones for second place behind Fresno State's Tyke Peacock; they'd all cleared 7'4".
"Seven-eleven," Carter mumbled as he left the arena that night, and he wasn't talking convenience stores. He's already looking well beyond the world record. "If I don't get it this indoor season," he says, "I'll surely get it in 1984."
And why not? It's a leap year.