Kacy Catanzaro stumbles in 'American Ninja Warrior' Oklahoma City comeback bid
Kacy Catanzaro made "American Ninja Warrior" history in 2014 and has been trying to replicate that magic ever since. The former gymnast took the stage in Monday's ANW episode in Oklahoma City in a highly publicized quest for redemption. Unfortunately for Catanzaro, she came up a bit short, going out on the third obstacle, the Log Runner.
In Season 6, Catanzaro became the first woman up the Warped Wall and was the only woman to finish a city finals course. The video of her run went viral, and she became an overnight sensation. But that success has brought pressure to duplicate her achievements, which has only intensified with the continued advancement of competitors such as Jessie Graff and Meagan Martin.
Catanzaro is arguably the face of ANW. Isaac Caldiero may be the first American Ninja Warrior ever, but anytime I mention the show to non-fans or casual observers, it's Catanzaro who's brought up first. That level of recognition is unprecedented on the show, and her social media following dwarfs that of any other ninja.
But since her breakout in Season 6, she's had three early exits. Normally, that wouldn't be a huge deal. But the show hypes her continuously, arguably at the expense of other women who are performing more consistently.
Her fall on the Log Runner wasn't unusual -- many ninjas fell on that particular obstacle on Monday's episode. In fact, Oklahoma City had the lowest number of finishers we've seen so far and was the only city to have people moving on who fell on the fourth obstacle.
There's a high probability that Catanzaro will receive an invitation to compete in the Las Vegas finals regardless of her fall, but where she goes from here will be interesting to see.
Oklahoma City regional specs:
Women finishers: 0
Women moving on: 0
New or modified obstacles: 4 out of 6
Barring some kind of massive surprise, the Floating Steps are here to stay and will lead each city course. Competitors must jump up five separated steps before swinging on a rope to the next platform.
This second obstacle is no joke. The Ring Swing seems a bit more upper-body intensive than the second obstacles in other cities. Ninjas swing on one ring and must propel their bodies up to latch onto a hook. Then, they grab the next ring and use their momentum to unhook it and swing to the next platform.
No course shake-up in OKC! The balance obstacle came in third again, and it was brutal! The Log Runner requires competitors to run up a series of five steps that are rolling logs. It was no doubt a ninja killer.
The Tire Swing returned for OKC's fourth obstacle. Ninjas swing from the first tire to the second but must maneuver around to reach for the third. The tires swing less and less as they advance through the obstacle, making the test of grip strength particularly taxing.
The Bar Hop was another new obstacle that also tests upper-body and grip strength. Ninjas hang from a bar and use it to hop to the next cradle. Next, they grab a suspended bar to transition to the last one, where they must hop again to the end.
The Oklahoma City course also ends with the taller version of the infamous Warped Wall, standing at 14 feet, 6 inches.
No women made it passed the Log Runner in Monday's episode. That obstacle was brutal for everyone, including promising up-and-coming ninjas such as Rose Wetzel and Asya Grecha. Wetzel is one of the top-ranked Spartan racers in the world, and Grecha is a world-class rock climber who trains with ninja great, David Campbell. Those two, along with Catanzaro, could be real threats in the Vegas finals, should they secure invitations. So much of ANW is luck of the draw, and unfortunately for the women in this region, they got stuck with the Log Runner.
Next week is the last of the qualifying courses. The spotlight will be on Philadelphia and elite female competitor Michelle Warnky, who is looking to get back on top of the Warped Wall after falling on the fifth obstacle last year in Pittsburgh.