Thursday, September 4, 2014

NBC's "American Ninja Warrior": Kacy Catanzaro and the Spider Jump

Entertainment Weekly has an article about Kacy Catanzaro's attempt at the first stage of the "American Ninja Warrior" final course, where she failed to complete the Jumping Spider obstacle. This is the obstacle where you have to jump from a trampoline into a tunnel by splaying your legs outward against the walls and then balancing yourself with your hands.

From NBC's "American Ninja Warrior": Kacy Catanzaro came so close to beating this obstacle!

Like many others, I had wondered how Catanzaro, who's 5'0", would manage this obstacle. She did manage to get her legs placed properly, but her arms weren't long enough for her to plant her hands, which she needed to do to stop her forward momentum. As a result, she tumbled forward into the water below and failed to progress.

Afterward, I was thinking about whether she could ever complete this obstacle as it's currently designed. I thought maybe she could control her momentum with her legs alone and then try a risky re-orientation so that her feet would be together on one side and her hands on the other side, and move slowly that way.

The EW article points this out:

When reached for comment, NBC’s Ninja Warrior production team defended the fairness of the course, pointing out the 4-foot-wide Jumping Spider walls — assuming a contestant vaults deep enough into the obstacle — are the exact same width apart as the Spider Climb from the semi-finals course where the contestants simply ascend vertically (an obstacle Catanzaro has previously conquered in her stunning Dallas finals video). As you can see in the photo, Catanzaro landed on the curved outside edge. So therefore if she had jumped farther (which, again, is very tough given her size), she could have made it.
Given Catanzaro's skills, grit, and determination, I'm pretty sure she'll be able to work on the forward leap to get farther into the tunnel from the trampoline. Part of what made her completion of the regional final so amazing and inspiring that was the course wasn't altered for her. She beat the same course that everyone else faced (most of whom, male or female, failed). To alter the first stage of the finals for her (or anyone else) would, I think, cheapen the success if/when she beats it down the road.

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