Posts Tagged ‘Paul Kasemir’

Top Stories from Denver Finals

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The last of the four cities that held the regional competitions for aspiring ninjas to qualify for the National Finals in Las Vegas of American Ninja Warrior 5 concluded last night on NBC.  It was a pretty thrilling finals in Denver, and we saw only 5 competitors complete the course out of 48 runners, by far the largest regional finals field we’ve ever seen in American Ninja Warrior.  Here are the top stories for me from the Denver finals:

Course Too Easy, Then Too Hard – The producers have a very challenging job every time they set up a course to find that elusive balance of building a hard yet achievable course.  Both the viewers and producers I don’t think like to see too many people finish the course, because it makes it look too easy and too surmountable by mortal folks, but they also don’t like it to be too insanely difficult that nobody can clear it.  In Denver more than any other region in recent memory the course swung from one end of the spectrum of difficulty in the preliminary qualifying round to the other end of the spectrum in the finals round.  The preliminary opening round in Denver was probably the easiest course in American Ninja Warrior history with 49 of approximately 130 runners clearing the whole course.  Then with a few adjustments for the finals round, including increasing the distance of a couple of the obstacles in the first part of the course that runners had already experience in prelims, it suddenly became such a difficult course that only 5 athletes out of 48 in a very strong field were able to clear the course.  I don’t point this out to criticize either course design in any way, because as we’ve seen in past years it is very hard to calibrate the “optimal difficulty” of a given course, just that for me as a viewer and a competitor the extremes of course difficulties was one of the top stories of Denver.

Paul Kasemir Just Consistently Awesome, Clocks Top Time – The soft-spoken 26 year old software engineer is a three-time Mt Midoriyama veteran, and one of the most consistently awesome competitors in American Ninja Warrior.  This cerebral and focused competitor sped through the course with seemingly little effort to register the fastest time of the Denver finals.  I actually don’t know Paul personally, but as a fan he’s one of my favorite competitors.

Rock Climbers Dominate (Josh Cook, Brian Arnold, Isaac Caldiero, Colby Frontier) – A recurring theme of American Ninja Warrior 5 has been “the rise of the rock-climbers.”  I’ve long thought that elite rock-climbers would soon populate the upper echelon of competitors, and this is the year that prediction is apparently coming true.  It would be a dramatic overstatement to call myself much of a rock-climber, but having had rock-climbing as the foundation of my training my first years competing in American Ninja Warrior showed to me that the ridiculous grip strength and stamina of rock-climbers lends itself very well to the advanced stages of American Ninja Warrior.  I believe it’s more than just their grip strength and stamina which gives them an edge in ANW, but also the total body control that they have which was elegantly demonstrated by several rock-climbers who flowed through the difficult Pole Grasper utilizing all four appendages very gracefully.  4 of the 5 competitors who cleared the course in the Denver finals are fairly elite rock-climbers, including professionals Isaac Caldiero and Brian Arnold (I know Paul Kasemir climbs, but I think his base is more parkour than climbing).  After this season I’m pretty sure most serious American Ninja Warrior competitors will be hitting the rock-climbing gyms harder than ever.

Sam Sann Delivers Inspiring Performance – 46 year old Sam Sann ran on a badly injured ankle and delivered one of the most inspiring runs in American Ninja Warrior history by making it all the way to the Warped Wall and then up it on his final heroic 3rd attempt.  Him kissing the top of the Warped Wall once he got to the top on his bad ankle is a memory for the annals of the competition.  With an inspiring back story of growing up in and fleeing from Cambodia during the conflicts throughout Southeast Asia in the late 60s and early 70s, this ageless wonder will be a fan favorite for years to come.

APEX Athletes Struggle – Aside from Paul Kasemir who finished with the top time, a number of other incredible athletes who train at APEX together who we are used to seeing dominate struggled in the Denver Finals.  After witnessing a breathtaking display of speed and dominance in the preliminary round of Denver by speedsters Brandon Douglass, Jake Smith, Amos Rendao, and Tre Sussy Vaughn (not shown on TV but still with a speedy time), we saw speed-demon Brandon Douglass have to withdraw with an injury, Jake Smith fall on the first run of the Floating Stairs, Amos Rendao fall on the first rung of the Salmon Ladder, and Tre Sussy Vaughn fall early on that spinning bridge thingy (blanking on the name).  Although Jake Smith still was able to advance to the National Finals based on his fast time through the Salmon Ladder, after past years’ performances and their awe-inspiring runs in the opening round of Denver, their struggles in the finals round was surprising to many viewers.

Floating Stairs for Real – The immediate transition to the Floating Stairs from the Salmon Ladder clearly tested the stamina of even top-level ninjas.  As Akbar pointed out, the Floating Stairs is an obstacle that most ninjas would cruise through if it were at the beginning of the course and people could attack it with fresh muscles and grip, but it was something else entirely later in the course, and right after the Salmon Ladder.  Legitimate studs who have proven themselves top competitors in past seasons failed here, including Lorin Ball, Josh Grant, Jake Smith and Steve Volcko, as well as Camilo Brokaw, Caleb Garnham, and Chris Romrell.

These are the competitors from Denver who advanced to the National Finals of American Ninja Warrior 5, in order of finish:

  1. Paul Kasemir – Clear
  2. Josh Cook – Clear
  3. Brian Arnold – Clear
  4. Isaac Caldiero – Clear
  5. Colby Frontiero – Clear
  6. Casey Finley – Failed Pole Grasper
  7. Tremayne Dortch – Failed Pole Grasper
  8. Kyle Sinacori – Failed Pole Grasper
  9. Andres De La Rosa – Failed Pole Grasper
  10. Chris Romrell – Failed Floating Stairs
  11. Lorin Ball – Failed Floating Stairs
  12. Jake Smith – Failed Floating Stairs
  13. Caleb Garnham – Failed Floating Stairs
  14. Camilo Brokaw – Failed Floating Stairs
  15. Josh Grant – Failed Floating Stairs

24 Advance to Stage 2 in National Finals

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Only 24 of the 100 competitors who advanced to the national finals of American Ninja Warrior 4 in Las Vegas completed Stage 1 and advanced to Stage 2. Derek Nakamoto killed it with the fastest time of 1:34.4. Tune in on Monday night July 23rd on NBC for the 2-hour season finale that shows these brave souls take their crack at Stage 2 and beyond, and find out if any of them became the first American Ninja Warrior!

Order #, Finalist, Time
1 Derek Nakamoto – 1:34.40
2 Lorin Ball – 1:37.22
3 Brent Steffensen – 1:41.00
4 Danny Johnson – 1:42.31
5 Kole Stevens – 1:42.33
6 Paul Darnell – 1:44.98
7 Elet Hall – 1:46.00
8 Drew Drecshel – 1:46.08
9 Ben Snead – 1:47.02
10 Ahmed Toure – 1:47.56
11 Paul Kasemir – 1:48.29
12 Remi Bakkar – 1:50.98
13 Travis Rosen – 1:51.00
14 James McGrath – 1:51.61
15 David “Flip” Rodriguez – 1:51.66
16 Brandon Douglass – 1:53.18
17 Sean Noble – 1:53.20
18 J.B. Douglas – 1:57.50
19 Brian Arnold – 1:58.16
20 Evan “Rocket” Dollard – 1:59.57
21 Chris Wilczewski – 2:01.26
22 Will Dodd – 2:02.23
23 Josh Lobeck – 2:06.08
24 Nathaniel Spencer – 2:10.00

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!

Southwest
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

Midwest
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

Northeast
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

Northwest
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

Midsouth
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

Southeast
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

Mid South on Deck

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

The “Mid-South” region, also previously called “South Central”, is on deck tonight on G4 and tomorrow (Monday) on NBC. There are a number of amazing athletes and veteran competitors in this tough region, quite a number of them from the dominant APEX Movement pack out of Colorado.

Jake “Love” Smith – Finalist from American Ninja Warrior 3, where he failed on the double salmon ladder in Japan, and professional free-runner who also competed in G4’s great Jump City: Seattle parkour/freerunning competition, Jake makes things look easy that are hard. A true threat to win it all. One of many APEX competitors in this region.
Paul Kasemir – Paul is a two-time American Ninja Warrior finalist, and competed in Sasuke (Ninja Warrior Japan) two times, reaching the third stage both times. Paul is ridiculously smooth and fast, and like his team-mate Jake Smith is one of the handful of competitors who are a threat to take down the $500k on top of Mt Midoriyama Las Vegas.
Jereme Sanders – Jereme is an icon in the parkour community having been a member of The Tribe, widely recognized as America’s first parkour team, and has competed in multiple seasons of American Ninja Warrior and in the single season of Jump City: Seattle. Jereme has a ton of experience attacking obstacles in his life, and a day on the course of American Ninja Warrior is just another day of play for him, so he’s a big threat to go deep out of the Mid South region.
Jaret Salas – Jaret is a first-timer to American Ninja Warrior, but I’ve been training with him for the last year and the dude is sick. Incredibly strong, agile, well-conditioned athlete that might just come out of nowhere and shock everybody. 505 in the house!
Josh Kronberg – Josh is a member of our unofficial “Middle-Aged Ninja Dads Club” of competitors. He’s a very dedicated competitor, and just barely missed advancing to the semi-finals in American Ninja Warrior 3. He’s got a great obstacle course in his backyard that he’s built and he’s trained on (including letting me play on it a few times), and he’s a very focused strong athlete with a lot of practical experience under his belt. Look for him to go far. Check out the competitor interview he gave me earlier. 505 in the house!
Risa Scott – One of the top women of American Ninja Warrior, and another amazing competitor from Team Apex, I can’t even do the Human Flag in my imagination as long as Risa can do it in real life (YouTube it if you don’t believe me). Risa is a threat to become the first woman to complete the opening stage in American Ninja Warrior.
Old Men of Austin – Interestingly enough, two of the strongest older competitors in all of American Ninja Warrior both hail out of Austin: Jason Bischoff and Craig Stiles, ages 44 and 48 respectively. They’ll be holding it down for the middle-aged guys in the Mid South!
Chris Okruhlik – Check out the interview and bio in the post below for more info on Chris! Check out his competitor interview.

As always, there are many deserving competitors that I’m neglecting here…forgive me.

American Ninja Warrior Semifinals

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

This past week’s episodes showed the great runs of 30 tough competitors in the semi-final round of American Ninja Warrior 3. The purpose of the semi-final round was to select the top 15 competitors who would advance to Boot Camp where they would have insane competitions to pick the top 10 athletes that would form Team America and get to go compete Ninja Warrior Japan (Sasuke 28). The semifinals utilized the opening round course of six obstacles, with modifications to a couple of them to make them more difficult (e.g. removing a bar on the Jumping Bars for only 3 bars instead of 4 covering the same distance), and then adding three more difficult obstacles on at the “end” of the opening round course. Competitors will be familiar with them by now: the dreaded Salmon Ladder, the Unstable Bridge, and the Long-Ass Cargo Net Climb (*not official name).

On what was a clearly exhausting and competitive course, the following top 15 competitors advanced, with basically completion of the Salmon Ladder being the threshold point between advancing to Boot Camp and going home. Of note…only one competitor completed the entire course, badass Ryan Stratis. Ryan’s a super-nice guy and very dedicated to his ninja-ness, and has made an amazing progression to improve every competition.

Here are the final results from the semifinal round. I was pleased to have 5 ninja buddies of mine advance to the Boot Camp round…mad props to Ryan Stratis, Chris Wilczewski, David Campbell, Travis Rosen, and Travis Furlanic.

1) Ryan Stratis – Completed Course
2) Chris Wilczewski – Completed Salmon Ladder at 1:21.5
3) Paul Kasemir – Completed Salmon Ladder at 1:23.37
4) Drew Drechsel – Completed Salmon Ladder at 1:25.89
5) David Campbell – Completed Salmon Ladder at 1:31.72
6) Brent Steffensen – Completed Salmon Ladder at 1:33.78
7) Travis Rosen – Completed Salmon Ladder at 1:34.89
8 Travis Furlanic – Completed Salmon Ladder at 1:37.92
9) Dustin Rocho – Completed Salmon Ladder at 1:46.52
10) Brian Orosco – Completed Salmon Ladder at 1:58.71
11) Brandon Douglass – Completed Salmon Ladder at 2:03.59
12) David “Young Flip” Rodriguez – Completed Salmon Ladder at 2:05.74
13) James McGrath – Completed Salmon Ladder at 2:06.44
14) Michael “Frosti” Zernow – Completed Salmon Ladder at 2:17.37
15) Alan Connealy – Completed Warped Wall at 45.2