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American Ninja Warrior's Second First

(Article: July 2014)

Something special happened on American Ninja Warrior last night. If you watch it, you know what it is. If you don't, I'm going to tell you about it. Because it was awesome.

ANW is the (okay, poorly named) American version of Sasuke, a Japanese obstacle course competition. There are three parts: (1) the qualifying course, which has six obstacles; (2) the city final, which has ten; and (3) the big one, Mount Midoriyama, which is a monster of an obstacle course with four sections.

It's soooo hard. ANW requires a special sort of agility and athleticism that very few people have. ANW has been going on for years, and no American has ever completed the Mount Midoriyama course and won the half million dollar prize. In fact, only three Japanese men have ever completed the original Midoriyama in Japan.

I'm not much for reality shows or sporting events, so why am I into this thing? Because it's not so much a competition as it is one athlete testing him or herself. The athletes all root for each other, and the crowd roots for everyone. It's sort of beautiful.

Until this season (summer, 2014) no woman had ever completed the qualifying course, although many had tried. To its credit, ANW has given a lot of women the opportunity, especially this year. And it finally paid off. A few weeks ago, a woman named Kacy Catanzaro finally completed the first part, the qualifying course. And this Monday, Catanzaro ran the second part, the Dallas city final, and she finished -- two huge firsts in one season.

It was memorable, exciting, and just wonderful to see. The crowd went absolutely nuts cheering her on, and the announcers were so excited they were practically peeing themselves.

Kacy Catanzaro, a former gymnast, is tiny. She's five foot tall, a hundred pounds, and she actually had to jump for some of the connections because she wasn't tall enough to reach them. What made the whole thing even better was her boyfriend, Brent Steffensen, who is one of the top five AMW competitors in the country. He washed out in the same qualifier that she completed, and he was right there in the city final cheering for her. When she finished, he climbed to the top of the tower to hug and congratulate her. She said, "I couldn't have done it without you." And he replied, "Oh yes, you would have."

Okay, I'm done now. But I had to share. Here's Kacy Catanzaro's second run in the city final.

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Billie, I'm so glad you posted this! It never occurred to me to watch American Ninja Warrior, but I clicked the video and couldn't stop watching. That was awesome in all sorts of ways.

  2. I never would have tried it, either. Dan was watching it a couple of years ago, and I just got hooked. The name just doesn't describe what it is.

  3. Yes, the name is very misleading. I'd been picturing people dressed in ninja costumes and face masks playing with swords.

  4. I am so happy you posted this! I don't like sports or reality shows either, but I got really sucked in to this one. I think...why am I watching this? But, it is really amazing what these people can do...especially this teeny tiny little woman. I was on the edge of my seat for her turn! Everyone was rooting for her, even all the guys whose butts she was kicking. I loved it. She reminds me of Buffy :)

  5. That clip was outrageously awe-inspiring. My eyes were like faucets.
    Love the review, too, Billie!


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