Posts Tagged ‘Kelvin “Grandpa Ninja” Antoine’

Top Stories from Venice Beach Opening Round

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

We saw some great stories and shocking moments in the Venice Beach city preliminary round competition.  Though this is certainly not a comprehensive treatment, for me these were the top stories of the opening round in Venice.

Top Veterans Deliver Top Performances, Advance – Although they got different degrees of TV coverage, a handful of the top long-time American Ninja Warrior veterans put in dominating performances.  Shane Daniels (2nd), David Campbell (3rd), James McGrath (5th), Brian Kretsch (7th), and Brent Steffensen (11th) showed that although there are many new amazing competitors on the scene, the traditional pantheon of top dogs are not ready to be displaced.

Derek Nakamoto Falls Early – Derek Nakamoto had a truly amazing rookie season performance in American Ninja Warrior 4 when he not only lit up the Southwest Regional Finals with the 7th fastest time in a stacked field, but blew everyone away with the fastest time in Stage 1 of the National Finals in Las Vegas.  Expectations were high for Derek entering American Ninja Warrior 5, and despite the motivation of his own traditional Japanese drum section playing for him on the course, he slipped up on the Floating Chains and fell to the gasps of the crowd.  Even the great ones fall early in competitions, proving that any obstacle can reach up and abruptly end your season.  I think despite the early exit in American Ninja Warrior 5, we’ll see great performances from this talented and focused 22 year old in many future seasons.

Flying Nunchucks Take Down Many – In what most likely proved to be the toughest single obstacle of any preliminary course in this year’s American Ninja Warrior, the Flying Nunchucks took down a long line of new and veteran competitors, including studs like Paul Darnell, Michael “Frosti” Zernow, Kyle Cochran, and Brian Orosco among others.

David Campbell Delivers the Goods – David Campbell is a legend in the Ninja Warrior crowd for his focus and discipline as a competitor, and for being one of the few American competitors who got to compete in Sasuke (Ninja Warrior Japan) multiple times before American Ninja Warrior even existed.  In American Ninja Warrior 3 he went farther than any other competitor, and fell on the second-to-last obstacle in Stage 1 of the National Finals last season.  One thing that sets David apart is his consistency, he rarely trips up early in competition, and this year was no exception as he delivered the 3rd fastest time.

The Frame Slider Takes Out Grandpa Ninja – Kelvin Antoine, one of the show’s true stars with fans and fellow competitors, delivered one of American Ninja Warrior 4’s most inspiring performances by being the oldest competitor at age 53 to ever complete the preliminary course.  His warm personality and positive attitude make him a great spokesman of the “age is just a number” philosophy that he often quotes.  Although his American Ninja Warrior 5 run ended early with a fall on just the second obstacle, the Frame Slider, it doesn’t change his inspiring message and journey, and I’m sure we’ll see Grandpa Ninja back on the course defying his age often in the future.

Justin Walcker Overcomes Tourette’s, Dominates Course – In one of my favorite inspiring story-lines of last season and this one is Justin Walcker, who has overcome Tourette’s syndrome to be a top competitor in American Ninja Warrior.  American Ninja Warrior 4 was his rookie season where he advanced to the National Finals in Vegas.  This year in the prelims in Venice Justin proved that last season was no fluke by blasting through the course to hit the buzzer.  I predict we’ll see Justin excel for many seasons to come, and we should all be reminded by him that with focus and determination, many seemingly insurmountable challenges can be overcome.

Second Early Exit in a Row for Brian Orosco – Brian Orosco is a legitimate legend in the Ninja Warrior and parkour communities, having competed multiple times at Mt Midoriyama in Japan as well as being the star in the lone season of the short-lived (but pretty awesome) Jump City.  Last season he had a surprisingly early exit when he fell on just the fourth obstacle, the Jump Hang, in the opening regional round.  This year he made it one obstacle further to the Flying Nunchuks, a brutal obstacle where he was just one of many to fail this difficult vertical grip test, handing Brian his second early-exit in a row.

Cowboy Finishes Course, Hat Doesn’t Budge – Lance Pekus, a rancher from Salmon, Idaho, cruised through the course with his cowboy hat on without it ever falling off.  With so many amazing parkour studs, rock climbers, and stuntmen dominating American Ninja Warrior, I love seeing people of unusual backgrounds and training situations doing well on the course, it reminds the rest of us “common folks” that people of any background have a chance if they have the heart and determination to compete.

Dr. Noah Kaufman Fixes Shoulders, Destroys Courses, Gets Misquoted on Parkour – We all cringed when we saw American Ninja Warrior veteran Alan Connealy take an awkward fall out of the Frame Slider and dislocate his shoulder.  Fortunately for him Noah Kaufman, a fellow competitor waiting his turn to run, happened to be an Emergency Room doctor, and he was able to come over and deftly pop Alan’s shoulder back into place to a reward of a gasp of “ohhh, nice!” from Alan.  Noah then took his turn on the course and demonstrated a rock-climber’s strength by easily handling the Flying Nunchucks and finishing the course with ease.  In his interview Noah shared his belief that the first American Ninja Warrior would be a rock-climber, something I’ve also said for years – ridiculous grip strength and stamina will be required to make it through the late stages of Mt Midoriyama.  Apparently Noah was misquoted in the telecast when Matt Iseman said he called “parkour guys wusses” which was in fact was a joke between Noah and a parkour friend of his.  This has unfairly made Noah a flash-point in a newly created Parkour v Rock-Climbing debate, and I’ve heard directly from Noah that he has great respect for the Parkour athletes.

Jesse La Flair Floats to Top Time – I must admit, I love watching Jesse La Flair.  So smooth and effortless, so skilled.  Probably why his parkour videos on YouTube are so watched with millions of views.  He continued that theme by breezing through the course in the Venice prelims to the top time and making us all wonder what he’ll do next.

Badass Chicks on the Rise – Watchout men, there is no doubt that there are many badass women ninjas on the rise and getting stronger.  Jessie Graff made history be being the first woman to ever advance to the regional/city finals round, and Erika Schwarz and Kacy Catanzaro delivered inspiring strong performances making it all the way to the Flying Nunchuks.  I believe American Ninja Warrior 5 is the year that the women ninjas put the men on notice that they are for real, and American Ninja Warrior 6 will be witness to a true monster breakout performance by one of the many strong women ninjas in our midst.  My money says that American Ninja Warrior 6 is the season where we see a woman finish the preliminary course for the first time and smash that buzzer.

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?

Southwest on Deck

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

The season of American Ninja Warrior 4 starts tonight on G4 and continues tomorrow night on NBC showing the Southwest regional and regional final rounds.  The Southwest region is chock-full of legitimate ninja studs and is arguably the strongest of the six regions in this year’s competition.  Including top competitors Levi Meeuwenberg, Shane Daniels, Luci Romberg, and Brian Orosco from the LA-based Tempest Academy, as well as other top guns and fan favorites like Kelvin “Grandpa Ninja” Antoine, Brent Steffensen, Dorian Cedars, Michael “Frosti” Zeroniow, Ryan “Cloud” Cousins, and Evan “Rocket” Dollard….the Southwest region episodes are sure to amaze, inspire and shock!

Click LIKE if you are eagerly anticipating, watching and/or digging the Southwest region episodes this week!  I’ll post some results and commentary when everything is aired and public.

Amazing Experience, Incredible Camaraderie

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Although I am bound by the Non-Disclosure Agreement all competitors must sign from talking about actual performance (they don’t want to ruin the suspense of the show when it airs in December), I’m still allowed to talk about my general experience and what it was like to compete.  It truly was an AMAZING experience attending the weekend event at Venice Beach and getting to meet the other obstacle course nutjobs who also competed in the event.  Running the course itself was certainly a dream realized and a ton of fun, but I have to say the comraderie among the competitors was singularly the most incredible thing of the experience.  Everybody was genuinely excited to meet and support each other, I didn’t see any instances of people “sizing each other up” and wishing failure on each other, it was nothing but love and support and mutual admiration.  I have to say it was one of the most unique experiences deeply connecting with a random assortment of other people.  Specific mad props to Brian Kretsch, Ryan Stratis, David Gabel, Mike Bernardo, Ron Dukes, Larry Rabena, Jason Huewe, Travis Furlanic, David Campbell, Gabe Cort, Christopher Christensen, Brett Sims, Ryoga Vee, Christian Okruhlik, Kelvin (Grandpa Ninja!), PJ Hradilek, Travis Rosen, Matthew, Chris, and the Amazing Oti for your friendship and support!  I know I forgot to include a few people here, but the love is still there!