Posts Tagged ‘Jesse La Flair’

Top Stories from Venice Finals

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

A few days late I just finished watching the Venice Finals, and wanted to share what were the top stories for me from the Venice City Finals of American Ninja Warrior.  As always, this is just one man’s take of what jumped out to him from watching the show.  As a competitor, and a competitor with friendships with other competitors, my view is obviously somewhat biased by my experiences, so take it all with that grain of salt!

Biggest Obstacle Downgrade Ever – The Flying Nunchucks in the qualifying round of Venice was the single hardest obstacle in any of the qualifying rounds in American Ninja Warrior 5, and they massively downgraded it by changing it out and putting in the weak lame Trapeze Swing for the Venice Finals.  Nobody fell on it, nor came close to falling on it.  It was a blatant move to ensure more competitors went deeper into the course.  I can understand it though, as we’d be bummed if only a few competitors got to try the cool obstacles like the Rope Maze and the Cliffhanger in the latter part of the course, but it was still the biggest obstacle downgrade ever in American Ninja Warrior history.

The Beast Means Business – James “The Beast” McGrath dropped the hammer and got the fastest time of the Venice Finals as he blazed through the course, only one of four competitors to finish the tough course (yes, it was still very tough despite the Biggest Obstacle Downgrade Ever!).  James is consistently one of the top ninjas, and a legitimate threat to be the first American Ninja Warrior.  I call James “The Patron Saint of Walkons” because in American Ninja Warrior 3 he walked on and made it all the way to the Ultimate Cliffhanger in Stage 3 in Japan.  Everybody who has ever walked on to American Ninja Warrior (including me) wants to be James “The Beast” McGrath when they grow up.

Jessie Graff Fails at Warped Wall – The 28 year old stuntwoman from Santa Monica was the first woman to have ever advance to the city/regional final round, and demonstrated that was no fluke with a strong run in the Venice Finals making it all the way to the Warped Wall.  She didn’t really come close to completing the Wall, but my sense is that with some focused training on it this amazing athlete will get it the next time she confronts it on the course.

Dustin Rocho Bounces Back from Injury, Gets 2nd Fastest Time – In American Ninja Warrior 4 this dedicated dad, humble guy, and generous soul (did he really give away his house to a family in need?) went out on a nasty fall on the Jump Hang that ruptured his ear drum.  This season he delivered an inspired run finishing the course in the 2nd fastest time and advancing to the National Finals in his hometown of Las Vegas.

David Campbell Secures 5th Mt Midoriyama Visit – Upfront I have to say that as a long-time Sasuke (Ninja Warrior Japan) fan, I have mixed emotions with American Ninja Warrior branding the National Finals in Las Vegas as Mt Midoriyama.  But it is clear they are, so no point battling against it.  That point aside, David Campbell further cemented his status as one of the true superstars of American Ninja Warrior by competing the Venice Finals course and advancing to Mt Midoriyama (there, I said it) in Las Vegas for a record 5th time.

Jesse La Flair Fails on Cliffhanger – Like I said before, I love watching Jesse La Flair run, you should check out his videos on YouTube.  I was interested to learn that he’s been with his wife for 13 years since the 9th grade, so much respect there.  He fell in the Venice Finals on the Cliffhanger, which was really no surprise since they’ve been showing that fall in TV promos for the last month!   Many people didn’t realize the guy falling in the promos was him, and NBC had a fail when it showed that promo ad immediately before his run, and many people recognized that it was him for the first time.  Social media blew up about that mistake #NBCfail.

Mario Mendoza and Daniel Dick Represent the 40 Year Olds – Last season in American Ninja Warrior 4 I was proud to be the oldest guy who advanced to the Midwest Finals when I was 40.  Here in Venice in American Ninja Warrior 5 there were two strong 40 year old competitors who advanced to the city finals:  Mario Mendoza and Daniel Dick.  Both of them had fantastic runs, with Mario Mendoza advancing to the National Finals in Las Vegas.  Congrats to both guys for holding it down for we middle-aged guys 😉

Team Douglas Represents – The Douglas brothers did fantastic in Venice with both Andrew and JB advancing to the city finals.  Andrew Douglas, who finished the qualifying course, caught a tough break and clearly slipped on the Quintuple Steps and went out early.  JB, the big brother who fell in his qualifying run but still advanced to the city finals, had an amazing run and was one of four competitors to hit the buzzer on a very difficult course.  There was a heartwarming story about JB helping a young boy who had selective mutism find his voice through their friendship, which made me root hard for him.  I’m a sucker for anybody who helps kids, so count me a JB fan.

Brent Steffensen Fails on the Salmon Ladder – Brent, one of the top consistent competitors in American Ninja Warrior and the guy who went the farthest in American Ninja Warrior 4, came to a shocking end when he slipped on the Salmon Ladder ending his season.  You could see he fell out of his rhythm, and his fall reminds us all how difficult each and every obstacle is, and any one can end our season at any moment on the course.  Brent is a great guy, and a fierce competitor, and he’ll be back strong in American Ninja Warrior 6, no doubt.

Here are the Venice competitors who advanced to the National Finals in Las Vegas…er…Mt Midoriyama:

  1. James McGrath – Clear
  2. Dustin Rocho – Clear
  3. JB Douglas – Clear
  4. David Campbell – Clear
  5. James Eggiman – Failed Spider Climb
  6. James Sclar – Failed Spider Climb
  7. Jesse La Flair – Failed Cliffhanger
  8. Dan Mast – Failed Cliffhanger
  9. Brian Krestch – Failed Cliffhanger
  10. Luke Carson – Failed Cliffhanger
  11. Lance Pekus – Failed Cliffhanger
  12. Justin Walcker – Failed Cliffhanger
  13. Levi Keller – Failed Rope Maze
  14. Mario Mendoza – Failed Rope Maze
  15. Will Roberts – Failed Rope Maze

National Finalists in American Ninja Warrior 4

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Here is a list of the 90 national finalists in American Ninja Warrior 4 who advanced to Las Vegas to compete on the Mt. Midoriyama replica uber-course that was built there. There will be 10 wildcards added to these 90 competitors to make an even 100 runners, which is the traditional number that competed in the original Ninja Warrior Japan (Sasuke) for many years. The identity of these wildcards will be revealed when the show airs.

15 finalists from each of the 6 regions (listed below in order of finish) fought their way through their respective regional rounds and then the regional finals to advance to the first finals of American Ninja Warrior held in the US. Mad props to all these competitors, and hit LIKE to applaud them and share this list to spread the word of their awesomeness!

Evan Dollard
Jesse La Flair
Kole Stevens
Remi Bakkar
Brent Steffenson
Chad Simpson
Derek Nakamoto
Dorian Cedars
Dan Mast
Paul Darnell
Sedderick Bassett
Ryan Thompson
Dylan Curry
Ronnie Shalvis Jr
Michael “Frosti” Zernow

Matthew Derouen
Andrew Karsen
Jack Morgan
Stephen Volcko
Arthur Skov
Michael Silenzi
Nick ‘Lovin’ Stephforn
Johnathan Morin
Scott Robinson
Will Dodd
Joshua Grant
Andrew Lowes
Nate Aye
Nick Kostner
Cade Halada

Tim Shieff
Luis Moco
Dan Galiczynski
Chris Wilczewski
Elet Hall
Travis Graves
Jesse Villareal
Christopher DiGangi
Andrew Wood
Danny Johnson
Bradley Smith Jr.
Phillip Pirollo
John Sapinoso
Matt Mings
Michael Pericoloso

James McGrath
Travis Furlanic
David Campbell
Sean Noble
Kyle Cochrane
Justin Sweeney
Josh Horsley
Nathan Sausedo
Justin Walcker
J.B. Douglas
Kevan Reoli
Ben Snead
Brian Kretsch
Gunner Bahn
Patrick McGrath

Paul Kasemir
Brandon Douglass
Brian Arnold
Jaret Salas
Kevin Klein
Sat Khalsa
Ahmed Toure
Josh Lobeck
Lorin Ball
Jake Smith
Bob Pondrom
Nathaniel Spencer
James Wyatt
Tremayne Dortch
Alan Connealy

David “Flip” Rodriguez
Drew Dreschel
Travis Rosen
Jared “J.J.” Woods
Michael Ekhert
Bull Bullard
Sean Morris
William Brown
Thomas Hall
Brendan Kelly
Andy Taylor
Adam Grossman
Niko Bogucki
Tony Reddick
Paul O’Connor

Top Stories from the Southwest Region

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Wow.  Just finished watching the Southwest regionals and regional finals.  Great production quality for the show, and many memorable moments and impressions.  Here are my personal highlights of the Southwest:

Levi the Legend Goes Down! – There is a reason why Levi Meeuwenberg is known as Levi the Legend, for both his Ninja Warrior and parkour/free-running achievements.  Nobody does such amazing feats with such cool and grace.  So when he fell on the very first obstacle the Quad Steps in the opening round in the Southwest regional, nothing could have shocked fans or competitors more.  I can tell you that every competitor in ANW4 across all the regions knew that Levi had fallen on the Quad Steps, and that freaked everybody the F-out about that obstacle, because if Levi can fall on the Quad Steps, ANYBODY can fall on the Quad Steps.

Grandpa Ninja is a Stud – There is no denying it, Kelvin “Grandpa Ninja” Antoine is a stud.  We first met at ANW2 in 2010, our first season for both of us, and I’ve grown to have a great admiration for his character and his determination.  Every season he’s done better than the last, this year advancing to the regional finals where he had a great run.  I don’t think anybody would bet against him doing even better next year at age 54!

The Rocket Takes Off – Evan “Rocket” Dollard shook off a near fall in the regionals on the Spinning Log to finish the course and then followed that in the regional finals with a performance that showed why he’s called The Rocket clocking in with the fastest time.  Not only is Evan truly one of the top competitors in American Ninja Warrior and a legit threat to win it all, but he’s also one of the favorites of fellow competitors for his easy charisma and love of a good laugh.  Oh…and he won American Gladiator once-upon-a-time, which is pretty dope.

Ryan “Cloud” Cousins Falls – Shocking observers who know Cloud for the ease and speed of his every movement, he slipped on that tricky Spinning Log and went down.  Ryan isn’t super well-known among Ninja Warrior fans, but competitors know him to be supremely skilled and seeing him fall on the Spinning Log was a bit of a shock for his fellow competitors who are used to seeing him flow past almost every obstacle in his path.

Jesse La Flair Bursts on the Scene – In his first year on American Ninja Warrior, Jesse La Flair of YouTube parkour fame absolutely smoked the course in both the regionals and regional finals, attacking every obstacle with speed, confidence and determination.  A new American Ninja Warrior star is born.

Kole Stevens Gets Redemption – From falling on the Quad Steps last year to completing the course in the Southwest regional finals and advancing to the Las Vegas Finals, Kole Stevens lived the dream of every competitor who ever bit it on the first obstacle of the course by coming back and smoking it the next year.  He didn’t doubt himself, trained like a demon, and blasted through both the regionals and regional finals to make it to the first finals ever in Las Vegas.  Congrats to Kole.

Frosti Advances – Composite showman and professional parkour stud Michael “Frosti” Zernow blew through the regionals and was cruising through the regional finals until a tough fall on the Arm Rings in the regional finals momentarily derailed the train, but he still advanced to the Las Vegas finals.  Frosti is a fan favorite, and his work with young kids inspiring them to get off the couch and exercise is a reason to root for this flamboyant competitor.

Brent Steffensen Thrives, Barely Survives – Everybody who watches American Ninja Warrior knows Brent to be one of the very strongest competitors, so no one was surprised when he cruised through the regionals with the fastest time.  What did surprise people was Brent failing on his first two Warped Wall attempts in the regional finals and barely getting it in his third attempt to advance to the Las Vegas Finals.  Still, Brent is always a danger to win it all.

Wipeouts Galore – As always, some fabulous guffaw-inducing and cringe-worthy wipeouts.  Never fails to satisfy 😉

Those are just my personal highlights of the Southwest region, what were yours?