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#MightyKacy
July 21, 2014 8:00 PM   Subscribe

Kacy Catanzaro is 5 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds and she is a total badass. The former Towson University gymnast recently became the first woman to qualify for the finals of American Ninja Warrior. Esquire has an after event interview.

In honor of the JulyByWomen project.
posted by cwest (111 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
Truly!!
posted by bq at 8:13 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


That video is a lot of fun, definitely worth the watch. I just wish they would have mentioned how tall she was at some point!
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 8:13 PM on July 21 [46 favorites]


I remember the amazement and celebration when Roger Bannister ran the first mile in under four minutes. Before that, nobody knew it could be done; now it's not even remarkable. I love that Kacy Catanzaro completed this and said part of her motivation in taking this on is that she wants the world to know women can do this. Never mind that I never could have, women can--and another woman will now, I'd bet.
posted by Anitanola at 8:23 PM on July 21 [8 favorites]


That was fun and she did very well. But why is it called American Ninja Warrior? Two of those three words seem to be lies based on this this clip. Is there some fighting and stuff in later rounds?
posted by Justinian at 8:23 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Also the people who coined #MightyKacy did not think their hashtag through very well.
posted by Justinian at 8:24 PM on July 21 [8 favorites]


Justinian, they're fighting against their own limitations.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 8:25 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


It's an american version of the japanese show Sasuke which when it was shown in the US was titled Ninja Warrior. There is no fighting but I suppose a lot of the skills demonstrated are sort of ninja-like.

I've seen a lot of the japanese ones, they used to come on during lunch when I worked at home, never seen the US one. After the first few obstacles I kept thinking it was over, that she was done, but it just kept going.

The variation between contestants on the japanese version was really odd - it was mostly people who failed miserably and people who powered through everything, until the very last level it was rare for there to be people for whom it seemed "hard but doable"
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:28 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


So there IS joy in Mudville...?
posted by HuronBob at 8:29 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


I don't get the objection to the hashtag?
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:29 PM on July 21


I don't get the objection to the hashtag?

Mighty Casey failed miserably and made everyone in Mudville sad.

Justinian, they're fighting against their own limitations.

Ohhh... so the power was inside them all along! And friendship was the real treasure!
posted by Justinian at 8:31 PM on July 21 [11 favorites]


Ernest Thayer, "Casey at the Bat"
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:32 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


RustyBrooks beat me to it. I'll add that unlike other Japanese obstacle competitions, Sasuke is "fair" in the sense that the course doesn't contain hidden dangers, all the obstacles are plain from the beginning, unlike Takeshi's Castle (which was redubbed for comedy purposes in the U.S. as "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge"), which is the basis for Wipeout.

Originally, G4 was importing episodes of Sasuke then adding a combination of dubbing and subbing that more-or-less accurately translated the dialogue. It became popular enough that Spike started a contest, first to send a handful of American contestants to appear on Sasuke, then when a U.S. version began Japan sent back some of theirs, like a parkour exchange program.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:33 PM on July 21 [8 favorites]


We watched this, agog. She is a goddamn squeaky treefrog ATHLETIC BADASS GODDESS.
posted by lalochezia at 8:36 PM on July 21 [17 favorites]


The best part was when she did the Arrow thing and incrementally ratcheted her pull-up bar up the ladder notches. She was very smart and didn't let her momentum stop. Of course I'd have failed abjectly on the very first hop and plummeted to my humiliating doom.
posted by Justinian at 8:37 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


I watched this the other day and said "Holy shit!" frequently. That was pretty great so maybe I'll go do that again!
posted by rtha at 8:42 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


I know basically nothing about the American Ninja Warrior thing other than it's some sort of obstacle course, and I watched that video, and now I'm wondering if her height is the major disadvantage or what? She's the first woman to succeed, which must be awesome, but how many tried and failed? I mean, I'd think a trained gymnast would certainly have some kind of advantages to make up for being below average height, so is the thinking here that a woman completing this was inevitable, or is the course somehow designed to cater to male athletes? It seems that pullup-bar-from-hell thing would be easiest if you are built for upper body strength.

The wikipedia page says she placed 21 of 30 when qualifying. I suspect the male competitors drastically outnumber the women, however. At any rate, that wasn't boring, so thanks.
posted by axiom at 8:55 PM on July 21


Woo! I love this especially because whenever I climb anything or really do anything athletic at all I totally look like a treefrog so now I can feel cool like Kasey instead of weird like Gollum.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:56 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


Axiom, it is indeed an upper body thing. Few male athletes could complete the course. I would have expected the first woman to be built like She-Hulk. It is a big, big thing. She's a badass for sure.
posted by rahnefan at 9:01 PM on July 21 [8 favorites]


Kid BlahLaLa is into freerunning and parkour, and a lot of his heroes compete in American Ninja Warrior. It's made me so happy that Kacy is one of his heroes now, too. He absolutely looks up to her, same as the guys.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:02 PM on July 21 [14 favorites]


Alternate Video source if the video link is blocked in your country.
posted by CaseyB at 9:11 PM on July 21 [6 favorites]


The other two women who qualified for the finals too have some pretty great skills too:Michelle Warnky and Meagan Martin. Martin on the ladders and Warnky on the stairs is just insane. The upper body strength they have is crazy.

It's not clear whether they made it through the finals though. It's not on their website or youtube yet at least. What all these women have in common is they do rock climbing. Count me as inspired to sign up for my local rock climbing gym.
posted by melissam at 9:14 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


A very small person would have less mass to do the pulling, but also less mass to need to lift at any point. So aside from the reach, I would think that at the very least being smaller wouldn't be too much of a disadvantage. And if you look at her, that girl's got serious shoulders. I also think that maybe being smaller might also help in a few places--where the floor tips, it's not going to tip as fast if you're not as heavy, right?
posted by Sequence at 9:16 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Light is good, but short makes a lot of things much tougher, like the poles. And generally women have less upper body strength even when considering equally fit women and men.
posted by tavella at 9:18 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Light is good, but short makes a lot of things much tougher, like the poles.

Oh, not denying that, but if you think--I mean, squirrels and monkeys make jumps like that all the time, and rarely fall.

So, the clear conclusion to draw here is that she is in fact actually a disguised squirrel.

Or not. But, seriously, when you know where the next pole is and you know for a fact it can hold your weight--well, it's different positioning, but she has some experience with flinging herself through thin air at things.
posted by Sequence at 9:32 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


"She's rewriting all the history books about American Ninja Warrior!"

God, and I'd only just found that Plutarch on Abebooks...
posted by Devonian at 9:36 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


Yeah, her size is a mixed bag. Her weight is actually an advantage because what matters isn't pure strength but rather strength-to-weight ratio. And it's easier to have a high strength-to-weight ratio if your weight is low. But the flip side is that being so small means her reach is limited which could end up being a problem.

But an obstacle course like this is definitely geared more for a gymnast's body (like hers) than a bodybuilder's body.
posted by Justinian at 9:38 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Girl is a gymnast. In addition to being all around fit, she would know how to use gravity and her center of mass.
posted by maryr at 9:38 PM on July 21 [10 favorites]


I had to turn the audio off half way through on account of the dueling bloviators.
They're kinda saying she's so small *and yet* she's able to do all this stuff when in fact its her edge, giving her a higher muscle to mass ratio than larger folks.
Also, her shoes are non-trivial, they look mighty sticky.
posted by Fupped Duck at 9:49 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


I'm on my phone, so I don't want to wait 5 years to watch the video. I always see this gargantuan wall that people have to jump up. Kinda like running up half pipe that drops I'm way too fast. I've seen 6 foot dudes unable to do that. How the F did she do that? Or was that not there.

Good for her 5 foot nothing frame to do that. I feel closer to her than any of those roided dudes.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:58 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Sequence: So what you're saying is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has found its Squirrel Girl?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 10:04 PM on July 21 [8 favorites]


Because I got motivated to look today: her boyfriend in the qualifier. I think it's an interesting contrast, just--their training regimen has to be pretty similar, and look how much harder he's working at it. She struggles a little with the reach in the Ring Toss, but the weight seems so much less of a stress, and instead of her body being a burden she carries along, she actually uses it each time to propel her forward. Like, he looks like he's being pulled down the whole way--she looks like she could hang out there all day but the hard work is moving forward.
posted by Sequence at 10:04 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Watching Kasey rocket up that salmon ladder is magical. After two seasons of "Arrow," the salmon ladder has become one of my favorite visual shorthands for badassery. "Oh, there's no ladder up this totally vertical climb? I'll just MAKE MY OWN!"
posted by nicebookrack at 10:08 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


It seems risky for Batgirl to reveal her secret identity like that.
posted by device55 at 10:25 PM on July 21 [26 favorites]


I've seen 6 foot dudes unable to do that. How the F did she do that? Or was that not there.

The Warped Wall is all about technique and timing.

Being tall definitely helps, since it's 14 feet high.

On the other hand, being too tall makes the Body Prop a lot harder.
posted by madajb at 10:38 PM on July 21


> That video is a lot of fun, definitely worth the watch. I just wish they would have mentioned how tall she was at some point!
> Uppity Pigeon #2

They mentioned it in the first few seconds of the video.
posted by mulligan at 10:56 PM on July 21


With few exceptions, the obstacle course seems to reward skills similar to those of a gymnast. Considering both male and female gymnasts are nearly universally much shorter than average for their respective genders, I would think that the same things that give shorter people an advantage in gymnastics also would give them an advantage in this obstacle course. At the very least, for every element that would seem to give taller people an advantage, there seem to be several that would advantage shorter people. As a result, overall, I would say that her small size gave her an advantage.
posted by eagles123 at 10:56 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Also, I'd just like to point out that my daughter is absolutely obsessed with this show.
And is apparently going to be an American Ninja Firefighter Scientist when she grows up.
Here she is practising.
posted by madajb at 11:02 PM on July 21 [21 favorites]


They mentioned it in the first few seconds of the video.

It seems likely Uppity Pigeon was being sarcastic given that they mentioned her height roughly one hundred and thirty seven times.

Watching Kasey rocket up that salmon ladder is magical

thank you, I didn't know that's what it was called. "ratcheting her pull up bar up the ladder notches" wasn't cutting it. Also when will Laurel start kicking ass?
posted by Justinian at 11:02 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


We watched this on Spike the other day. Well, okay, we recorded after a few minutes because the commentary is so very awful, plus it was like a two-hour show and Kacy wasn't featured until the end. I'm really glad we recorded it though as we had a ball watching her go and I look forward to showing it to our girls. Although I found myself irritated, rather than heart-warmed by her boyfriend's climbing the scaffolding to join her at the top. I know you trained with her, I get that, but just let her have a moment.
posted by dawg-proud at 11:13 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


At work we use a gif of the Arrow guy doing the salmon ladder when someone submits a giant pull request for code review. Kacy made it look easy. I think one of her leaping through the air or doing that horizontal thing with the rings will be the new measure of hard work.
posted by Foaf at 11:17 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Never heard of Arrow before, just googled it, found a training scene involving the salmon ladder and uh, how's he get down? Seems to be a one way ticket training regimen...
posted by pwnguin at 11:20 PM on July 21


I was watching this show a while ago with a bunch of military/ cross fit/ gym rat dudes. It was basically one big muscle-y guy after another biffing all over the course and they kept saying that a small, strong gymnast woman would kick ass and wondering why there weren't more people like that competing. They love this woman so much right now.
posted by fshgrl at 11:32 PM on July 21


Uppity Pigeon #2: "Justinian, they're fighting against their own limitations."

...but sneakily?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:00 AM on July 22


Because I felt compelled to look it up due to insomnia: It's a US adaptation of a Japanese original, the "Ninja Warrior" was the English name that show was given when it was aired overseas. Its original name was "Sasuke", which appears to be the name of a ninja from Japanese legends? So, they used a ninja because it's their cultural idea of a badass who can scale vertical walls and so on, if it had originated here we probably would have named it American Superhero.
posted by Sequence at 12:59 AM on July 22


Plus "American Gladiator" was already taken.
posted by Justinian at 1:12 AM on July 22


The thing that bugs me about American Ninja Warrior is that the original show, when it was being shown on G4, was fast-paced. Dude runs, completes or fails out, next dude steps up. The episodes of ANW I've seen move at an absolutely glacial pace because as far as I can tell the producers regard the obstacle course not as something that it's fun to watch people attempt but as something that we can watch a few minutes of between overdramatic stories about the competitors. With the Japanese show, you get a lot more course runs per hour than ANW gives you, and that makes ANW often excruciating to watch.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:10 AM on July 22 [23 favorites]


That's how American TV shows the Olympics, too. It's annoying and I hate it.
posted by Justinian at 2:17 AM on July 22 [10 favorites]


"And now before we show you the next heat, 17 minutes about how this athlete's dog was once slightly injured in a freak bathing accident!".

Anger... rising...
posted by Justinian at 2:18 AM on July 22 [17 favorites]


The uploader has not made the video available in your country.
posted by asok at 2:20 AM on July 22


asok, did you try the alternate link that CaseyB provided above?
posted by cwest at 3:02 AM on July 22


It is interesting how the descending part of that ring pull bit seems to be much harder than the ascending part
posted by thelonius at 5:01 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Although I found myself irritated, rather than heart-warmed by her boyfriend's climbing the scaffolding to join her at the top. I know you trained with her, I get that, but just let her have a moment.

Ugh, dawg-proud me too. I turned to my husband, horrified and said "oh my god, is he going to propose? I hope if he does, she kicks him off of the platform."
posted by librarianamy at 5:18 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


There were 2 more women who made it to the second round, but they haven't aired yet. Although I didn't watch the episode that aired last night.

Then number of women competing is low. I remember watching the Japanese version, and they would have women only competitions, but the obstacles were different, and looked relatively easier. Even though I am sure I would still fail horribly in the first few obstacles.

I will admit I fast forward through most of the show. I watch what the obstacles are, fast forward to the people who look like they might make it further than anyone so far. It takes maybe a half hour because the relentless backstory yammering is just such a massive time suck.
posted by Badgermann at 5:33 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


The namesake of Sasuke, in case anyone else is curious.
posted by idiopath at 5:42 AM on July 22


With few exceptions, the obstacle course seems to reward skills similar to those of a gymnast.

As I recall, (male) gymnasts often excelled at the original Sasuke. It's just about the best training background you can have; so many of the obstacles require phenomenal upper body strength, and being small is a huge advantage because you have less body mass to carry around. On the other hand, the obstacles are built with the average-height man in mind, and someone with a small frame like Kacy will be challenged just trying to reach things. This happened a lot in Sasuke: the few female competitors often had trouble with the obstacles that require wrapping your limbs around a large object and hanging on.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:43 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Meh. This is how I get to work every morning. Both ways. In the snow.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:44 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


This show talks about 'grip strength' so much it's almost pornographic. I love it.
posted by Think_Long at 5:46 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: With the Japanese show, you get a lot more course runs per hour than ANW gives you, and that makes ANW often excruciating to watch.

I've referred to ANW as 15 minutes of show in a 1 hour bag.

Grip strength is also hugely important, which gives gymnasts a further advantage. And I thought it was cute that her boyfriend wanted to join her on the tower, but I'm always a sucker for a cute couple.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:47 AM on July 22


But an obstacle course like this is definitely geared more for a gymnast's body (like hers) than a bodybuilder's body.

Usually rock climbers are the ones who dominate. Lean, tall, and excellent arm and hand strength. They swing across the obstacles incredibly fast and don't waste strength or time hanging there.

Of course there is a lot of luck too... the faster you go, the higher the chance you screw up. A lot of people rush the salmon ladder, miss one side, and can't recover.
posted by smackfu at 5:58 AM on July 22


On the other hand, the obstacles are built with the average-height man in mind, and someone with a small frame like Kacy will be challenged just trying to reach things.

I once saw a Ninja Warrior competitor who was this tiny little Japanese gymnast move through the first round course at a run, barely seeming to notice that the obstacles were even there. She absolutely dominated the first round.

Then she got to the second round, where you're supposed to spread your arms and legs and move forward between two parallel walls. Her limbs were not long enough to reach, and so she was completely unable to proceed not because she wasn't great at Ninja Warrior but because her genes hadn't bestowed long enough limbs. That always felt like some bullshit to me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:05 AM on July 22 [12 favorites]


I had to turn the audio off half way through on account of the dueling bloviators.

Well, turn it back up at the end, because Biamala's gleeful squeal and exclamation of "SHUT the FRONT DOOR!" is well worth it.
posted by ftm at 6:15 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Mrs. etherist and our daughter love this show. I don't normally watch, but happened to be paying attention when Kacy went through. Wow, what a performance.
posted by etherist at 6:17 AM on July 22


Never heard of Arrow before, just googled it, found a training scene involving the salmon ladder and uh, how's he get down?

He flexes sweatily and the floor just rises up to meet him.
posted by elizardbits at 6:24 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


Never heard of Arrow before, just googled it, found a training scene involving the salmon ladder and uh, how's he get down?

For serious? Usually you'd just drop, because they aren't very high. Alternatively, you could just climb down the side.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:39 AM on July 22


Pope Guilty: Then she got to the second round, where you're supposed to spread your arms and legs and move forward between two parallel walls. Her limbs were not long enough to reach, and so she was completely unable to proceed not because she wasn't great at Ninja Warrior but because her genes hadn't bestowed long enough limbs. That always felt like some bullshit to me.

Yeah, I'm worried about Kacy if they have the Body Prop in the finals. That's a really shitty obstacle in general -- it penalizes the too tall and the too short. I always thought they should adjust the spacing of the walls proportional to the person's height on that one.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:56 AM on July 22


Usually rock climbers are the ones who dominate. Lean, tall, and excellent arm and hand strength. They swing across the obstacles incredibly fast and don't waste strength or time hanging there.

posted by smackfu at 8:58 AM on July 22 [+] [!]


Climbing skills are probably a plus, but are definitely not the be-all, end-all. A couple of truly world-class rock climbers competed last year and both did well but weren't remotely close to winning. One of them, Noah Kaufman is competing again this year and earns bonus points for the outfit, IMO.
posted by that's candlepin at 6:59 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Agreed that the course is tailor-made for gymnasts and parkour folks (parkourists?), and that the beefy or over-tall tend to wipe out.

It's been mentioned upthread, but it bears repeating that the reason why this is so impressive is that so many of the obstacles rely on upper body strength (the salmon ladder, the ring thing, the poles, etc.). And yes, Kacy has less weight to support using just her arms, but generally, women's strength tends to be in the lower body rather than the upper body. In fact, I thought she was using that to her advantage in the salmon ladder, where it looks like she is propelling herself up with her legs.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:04 AM on July 22


I have to agree with the wonder of why there haven't been more female gymnasts winning/finishing stages.

The clips I catch here and there seem to show the contestants (aside from the touching story about their dog's health problems ;) training at home/gym with more or less replicas of the various obstacles they face here. Part of me wants to say "cheater cheater" about it, but then again, that's how you win.

Not sure why I feel like "cheater cheater" -- you do want to win, but the show seems to be an "everyman/everywoman off the street, all comers who can pass the qualifiers", when it really isn't. Not sure I'd call them professionals, but .. (Same criticism of the cross-fit games -- the winners train for the games, they don't just do cross fit and show up at the games.. )
posted by k5.user at 7:05 AM on July 22


OTOH, if you have no technique, you tend to do terrible and it's not that entertaining. Sometimes there is a competitor who is all hyped up in the pre-interview, and has a salmon ladder at home, and then immediately fails on something they weren't able to practice on, like the big moving log that tests grip strength.
posted by smackfu at 7:31 AM on July 22


Yeah k5.user, that doesn't really bother me - I think because these obstacles require strategy, not just brute strength or fitness. A number of them require the sort of finesse that you can only get by trying and failing a bunch of time.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:32 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


training at home/gym with more or less replicas of the various obstacles they face here. Part of me wants to say "cheater cheater" about it, but then again, that's how you win.


This show is a weird mishmash of crunchy granola rock-climbing culture and the absolute dorkery of video-game parkour culture. The rock climbers are just naturally lanky and athletic and train by doing what they've always done. The parkour geeks obsess over their home gym setups, measuring the rungs of their salmon ladders, and figuring out how to turn their mom's basement into a vert ramp.

Basically what I'm saying is that the home training and obsession part of all this is a big part of the fun.
posted by Think_Long at 7:32 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Meh. This is how I get to work every morning. Both ways. In the snow.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:44 AM on July 22 [+] [!]


Eponysterical Arctic Monkeys.
posted by aureliobuendia at 7:34 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


This gets cut out of quite a few of the clips of her run, but I think my ovaries just about exploded at the end where her boyfriend/coach climbs up to see her, and she says "I couldn't have done it without you" and he replies something along the lines of "Of course you could have, but I'm thrilled to have been part of this with you." I love that he supports her but doesn't take credit for her achievement.

I had never seen this show before a few weeks ago, when I was visiting my parents. My Dad watches it a fair bit, and I kind of liked it because it was very "us against the obstacles" and the environment seemed really supportive. There was no trash-talking and everyone was thrilled when someone beat an obstacle. It just seemed so fun and relaxing to watch a bunch of people try to do amazing things rather than watching people try to beat each other.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:53 AM on July 22 [24 favorites]


I've only seen about a half-hour of the show, but it seemed to me that the biggest problem for most female and shorter male competitors was the warped wall. According to the Wikipedia page, this run by Kacy has the first ever successful warped wall attempt by a female, so that may explain why gymnasts haven't been completely dominant on the show.
posted by gimli at 8:23 AM on July 22


oh god I love this show. Everyone is so positive and supportive of each other. There is no interpersonal drama like there is on other reality shows. You can see some people get upset with themselves but never with others. The backstories can feel a little emotionally manipulative but that's about it.

Kacy is AMAZING, doubly so when I consider that she's my height and weight. I mean, she's been training for years to do what she does, and I've been mostly sitting on the couch, but it's incredible to think that someone my size could do all of that.
posted by desjardins at 8:24 AM on July 22


I really want the guys from Wipeout to narrate an episode of ANW. I even tweeted at Matt Iseman (from ANW) about it but his response was "I do love Anderson & Henson but that would feel a little bit like Indecent Proposal."
posted by desjardins at 8:28 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I saw links to this all over the place last week, but somehow hadn't gotten around to watching. Now I have... Excuse me, I need to go get wires and bolts to reattach my jaw. It fell off somewhere around the tilting... rectangular... bar... things.
posted by seyirci at 8:40 AM on July 22


I also miss Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:55 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I can easily imagine doing one or two of those obstacles, but geez, the practice it must have taken to get good at all of them is ridiculous. For me, what's striking about watching this stuff is how easy they make it look. She's careful, confident... totally dynamic when she needs to be, but able to chill it out between obstacles, not rushing into things. More than anything, she demonstrates just how far you can get on technique and discipline. I see this a lot at my climbing gym: the best climbers are just totally fluid and have a very thorough understanding of how to use their body weight to position themselves to make things easier.
posted by ph00dz at 8:57 AM on July 22


This show is great. The whole family watches and for at least an hour afterwards our house and yard turn into a giant obstacle course. Definitely watch on fast forward though to skip the sob stories.
posted by stp123 at 9:07 AM on July 22


I will say this - every time I hear "Mt. Midoriyama", I want to reach in the TV and smack the announcers. It's like "ATM machine" or "PIN number".
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:08 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Oh, she made it through the trials?! YAY!

My sons frequently watch the show and were telling me about Kacy Catanzaro just the other day.
posted by misha at 9:36 AM on July 22


The episodes of ANW I've seen move at an absolutely glacial pace because as far as I can tell the producers regard the obstacle course not as something that it's fun to watch people attempt but as something that we can watch a few minutes of between overdramatic stories about the competitors.

I've been trying to figure out how they decide who gets a dramatic athlete vignette and who doesn't.
I mean, there are plenty of 2 minute background sketches about people who go out on the first obstacle, meanwhile, they show 10 seconds of some guy who makes the warped wall.
Did the people without blurbs not cooperate? Are they really that boring?

Also, why do they pretend it's a live event?
Half the commercial breaks are "While we were away, 4 people ran the course".
You're not fooling anyone.

In conclusion, I recommend watching it on a DVR or other method that allows fast-forwarding.
posted by madajb at 9:39 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I've only seen about a half-hour of the show, but it seemed to me that the biggest problem for most female and shorter male competitors was the warped wall.

Yeah, that is just a really hard obstacle. Kacy makes it look easy in comparison to a lot of the men, who take less steps and do more of a big jump, then barely catch their fingertips.
posted by smackfu at 9:48 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


The thing to remember is that the first course is meant to weed out the weaker contestants - it's not unheard of to see a 90% failure rating. This actually illustrates a difference between Japanese and American viewers - the former are much bigger on spectacle (and you have a number of "one and done" people competing selected more for color than skill.) In comparison, US viewers are more focused on skill, so you see more "serious" competitors overall, and less focus on weak competitors.

Also, it's worth remembering that Sasuke airs in Japan as a single one-shot, which is why they have such a high tempo on the show.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:50 AM on July 22


Her limbs were not long enough to reach, and so she was completely unable to proceed not because she wasn't great at Ninja Warrior but because her genes hadn't bestowed long enough limbs. That always felt like some bullshit to me.

To be fair, the competitors aren't supposed to win.

The Japanese original has been going on for about 15 years now, and I think only 3 people have made it to the end (Midoriyama).
As far as I know, no Americans have made it to the end.

The course is the true star of the show, they should do a retrospective about that.
posted by madajb at 9:53 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Also, why do they pretend it's a live event?

Yeah, this is really annoying given that the St Louis finals last night showed people wearing parkas and mittens. The city finals are taped the day after the city qualifying rounds.
posted by desjardins at 9:58 AM on July 22


This show is a weird mishmash of crunchy granola rock-climbing culture and the absolute dorkery of video-game parkour culture.

God that is such a perfect and wonderful description. When I started watching this show a few years ago (thanks to MetaFilter actually), I thought that the reason I couldn't have ever competed was lack of athleticism. But as I've grown to love it, I realize that I also am not enough of an obsessive dork for the ANW community, which, frankly, is usually a pretty easy bar for me to clear warped wall for me to climb.

Even though I had a feeling she would because of the way they were promoting it, watching Kacy complete the course in the City Finals was probably the most exciting not-soccer thing I've seen on my TV this year.

This show talks about 'grip strength' so much it's almost pornographic. I love it.

Last night, as the stupidly-pretty-model-dude-with-the-hair-and-the-body ran the course, as the announcers declared their adoration over and over again, I wanted to tell them to get a damn room. I also loved it.

Also:

"Grip strength" and "don't forget to keep your arms at 90 degrees" is pretty much my answer to any task these days.

"It's hot; I don't want to walk over there."
"Keep your arms at 90 degrees and you won't wear yourself out too soon."

"I can't get the car into that parking space."
"Weak grip strength, I bet."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:00 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


Something I'm curious about relative to ANW: Is there a required way to do the obstacles?

I've noticed a few of them where the way the equipment is set up seems like it offers some options for completing it that aren't necessarily intended. In this example, the rotating barrel at the beginning has perpendicular sticky outy bits that he's gripping, but the barrel itself is made of metal tubes. If he reached up a little higher and grabbed those and walked the thing forward that way, would that be legit or disqualifying? Similarly, it seems like a contestant on those floating doors could conceivably shimmy their way up the first door and then start using the top of the doors and the ropes they're suspended from as part of their grip and that would make it a very different (though not necessarily easier) obstacle.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:12 PM on July 22


Something I'm curious about relative to ANW: Is there a required way to do the obstacles?

There isn't usually a prescribed way to do the obstacles (witness the upset down flip from Kevin Bull in Cannonball Alley) but the obstacles do have requirements.

There are also things you are not allowed to do: reach outside the obstacle, touch the water, go out of bounds.

I've never been able to find a good online resource on the rules of the obstacles.
I imagine the contestants are told at some point.
posted by madajb at 12:27 PM on July 22


madajb: Something I'm curious about relative to ANW: Is there a required way to do the obstacles?

There was an episode recently where a guy DQed himself for "touching the back of the platform" on the slanted steps at the beginning. It wasn't obviously illegal, and it seems like a reasonable way to do it (grab the edges to prevent slipping), so yeah, I bet there are certain restrictions on how you perform most of the obstacles that aren't spelled out for viewers.

MCMikeNamara: "Grip strength" and "don't forget to keep your arms at 90 degrees" is pretty much my answer to any task these days.

Also "Keep your chest up." That's Akbar's constant advice on the warped wall. I'm not even sure what that means.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:28 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Her limbs were not long enough to reach, and so she was completely unable to proceed not because she wasn't great at Ninja Warrior but because her genes hadn't bestowed long enough limbs. That always felt like some bullshit to me.

I went on a bit of a binge and watched a half dozen or so more ANW videos and in one of them they mentioned that they now adjust the width of the Body Press depending on the height of the competitor.
posted by 256 at 1:34 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Also "Keep your chest up." That's Akbar's constant advice on the warped wall.

*takes notes for a drinking game*
posted by desjardins at 1:36 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Re: Rules, there is a reddit AMA where a contestant says they walk them all through each obstacle and tell them specific rules, and show them a demo of how it is meant to be run.
posted by smackfu at 1:40 PM on July 22


RE: "Arrow": Also when will Laurel start kicking ass?

Have hope, Katie's been working out for season 3!

And for vague thread relevance: Sara (Caity Lotz) vs salmon ladder in "Arrow." Kacy makes it look easy!
posted by nicebookrack at 1:46 PM on July 22


desjardins: *takes notes for a drinking game*

I like this. Here are some other ideas.
-- Akbar references his days in the NFL
-- Contestant runs the course in street clothes
-- Contestant finishes the course in street clothes (finish your drink)
-- "Parkour"
-- "former gymnast"
-- homemade Ninja course in backyard
posted by Rock Steady at 1:59 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


It's been mentioned upthread, but it bears repeating that the reason why this is so impressive is that so many of the obstacles rely on upper body strength (the salmon ladder, the ring thing, the poles, etc.). And yes, Kacy has less weight to support using just her arms, but generally, women's strength tends to be in the lower body rather than the upper body.

Catanzaro was a bars and beam specialist at Towson, so it makes sense that she would have killer upper body strength, more so to a certain extent than even other gymnasts. Unusually for a bars/beam specialist, she had a helluva lot of power and a good vault. Watching her college gym stuff, I almost think the parkour-y stuff is a better fit for her, or it might just be that she has kept growing as an athlete and is now better able to use allllllllllll that power to her advantage. I thought she looked more in control on ANW than in some of her gymnastics routines, possibly. So cool to watch and see her keep her athletic career going.

Here's a video of her bars at Towson.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:31 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I like this. Here are some other ideas.

-- Someone goes out on the first obstacle - drink
-- Back story mentions dying parent - drink
-- Back story _not_ filmed on Venice Beach - drink
-- Finisher takes off shirt - 1 shot
-- Female finisher takes off shirt - Finish the bottle
posted by madajb at 3:43 PM on July 22


-- Backstory involves a climbing wall - drink
-- Multiple competitors from the same family - one drink per family member
-- Competitor makes it up the wall on their third attempt - three drinks
-- Competitor dips a toe in the water climbing down the cargo net - drink

Oh, and one of my favorite moments:

-- Repeat competitor does worse than they did last time - finish your drink
posted by Rock Steady at 4:27 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


-- Matt and/or Akbar is incredulous that someone over 40 can still walk upright
posted by desjardins at 5:15 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


-- Bode Miller shows up, asks if he has been missed.
posted by Think_Long at 5:29 PM on July 22


Also "Keep your chest up." That's Akbar's constant advice on the warped wall. I'm not even sure what that means.

It means that too often, people sprint into the wall while leaning forward. When you do that, you tend to run out of running room too soon, which means you have to leap sooner. When you have to leap sooner, you're jumping from a lower position, which means you're more likely to not get high enough to get your hand over the lip of the wall.
posted by parliboy at 7:58 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


In conclusion, I recommend watching it on a DVR or other method that allows fast-forwarding.

Agreed. On the other hand, this is a nearly perfect show to have on when you're doing chores around the house. If you clean during the commercials, backstories, etc, and pause to watch the actual obstacle runs, it's like interval training but with laundry instead of push-ups.

Also: on Sunday's show I noticed that the salmon ladder's bar was apparently attached to a weighted rope fed through a pulley. The weight didn't look like it could be more than a few pounds, but what's up with that?
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:41 PM on July 22


I think people kept dropping the bar altogether last season. They probably don't want it falling on someone's head.
posted by desjardins at 9:23 PM on July 22


I've always thought it was a safety issue and these instructions on how to build your own salmon ladder suggest the same.

As an added bonus, you can make a pulley system for catching the bar. The main danger of the salmon ladder is the bar slipping and hitting you on the head. The best way to avoid this is to nail a beam across the two sides of the salmon ladder at the highest point and hang two ropes from that beam. The ropes should go all the way down to the first rung of the salmon ladder where it should be tied to the bar. That way, when the bar is falling, it will be caught by the rope. You can even run the ropes through a pulley, and have some weights that equal the weight of the bar (or are a little more) on the other end. This way, as you travel up the salmon ladder the weight will take the slack out of the ropes, and the bar will not fall at all if you let go and/or miss a gap.

On preview: desjardins being my goto ANW expert, I feel more confident in my answer.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:27 PM on July 22


I was having flashbacks to old Bill Simmons NBA columns--every time they mentioned Kacy's "wingspan", I shouted "tremendous upside potential!"
posted by epj at 9:17 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


You could not have an entry in the drinking game about "they make a weather-related pun about the contestant who is a weatherman" because alcohol poisoning.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:48 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


desjardins being my goto ANW expert

This made me snort because I struggle to carry cat litter up the stairs.
posted by desjardins at 11:01 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


This made me snort because I struggle to carry cat litter up the stairs.

Put a button at the top.
Every time you reach the top of the stairs, whack it for all you are worth and let the air horns ring out.
posted by madajb at 1:23 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


One Animated Woman: American Ninja Warrior Champion Takes on Assassin’s Creed Obstacle Course At SDCC
posted by desjardins at 5:23 PM on July 25


A late addition to the drinking game.

-Matt and/or Akbar spew obviously scripted banter that amusingly doesn't hold up to a moment of logic

(As in tonight's "one thing about wrestlers is that they don't tap out"...um actually)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:48 PM on July 28


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