Rose Wetzel of 'American Ninja Warrior' is one of the sport's up-and-coming stars
Oklahoma City hosted the fourth round of "American Ninja Warrior" finals, which aired on Monday night. As with the Atlanta city finals, no women made it through the qualifying round.
However, the region had some impressive women in its ranks. Sometimes all that keeps competitors from completing a course is a single tricky obstacle, and in Oklahoma City, that obstacle was the Log Runner.
The third obstacle continued to give ninjas problems Monday night, taking out six competitors. It has also knocked out many of the women competing, including returning ninja and obstacle course racer Rose Wetzel.
"We were watching people go down, down, down," Wetzel said in a phone interview with espnW. "No matter how great of an athlete someone is, if there's a ninja-killer, it doesn't discriminate."
Wetzel is a fierce competitor. She is the second-ranked Spartan racer in her age group and has competed on two seasons of "American Ninja Warrior." She also participated in the first episode of "Team Ninja Warrior."
"I've done so many sports activities, and there's something magical about 'American Ninja Warrior,'" Wetzel said.
Wetzel is one of the female ninjas to get her start in the sport after the record-shattering sixth season in which three women completed the warped wall and Kacy Catanzaro finished the Dallas city finals course.
Catanzaro is still the only woman to finish a city finals course. In each of her first two seasons, Wetzel competed in the same region as Catanzaro, which she says is important to her as a competitor.
"She has more pressure than anyone I know in that sport," Wetzel said. "She continues to inspire me and I know she continues to inspire other people. Even if she were to never hit another buzzer for some crazy reason, she is a symbol of doing the impossible. That will never change. She broke that ceiling for us all and gave us permission to really go for it."
Wetzel appreciates her athletic success. The rainbow tights she wears are a reflection of that. For many ninja competitors, their outfits are important to them, either so they can be identified easily or so they can raise awareness about a cause. Wetzel has loved ones that have struggled with various physical and mental ailments, so she chose to recognize them by wearing rainbow, which she says reflects "all the colors of the ribbons for various causes."
"I'm really grateful for this window of time, which I hope is a really long one," Wetzel said.
Oklahoma City finals specs:
Female finishers: 0
Women moving on: 0
New or modified obstacles on second half of course: 1 out of 4
We're into city final episodes, where the first six obstacles remain the same as in each of the city qualifiers (except for a couple of tweaks). In city finals, the course builders added four obstacles on the second portion of the course (which we'll review below), bringing the total number of obstacles to 10.
The first obstacle on the second part of each city finals course so far (i.e., the seventh obstacle overall) is the Salmon Ladder. Ninjas hang from a bar and must propel themselves upward to jump the bar up a series of rungs.
Bungee Road returns from season seven as the eighth obstacle. Using their upper body, ninjas transition through a series of bungees before leaping onto a horizontal cylinder. From the cylinder, they swing to the next platform.
The ninth obstacle is all new, and quite a doozy! The Window Hang requires ninjas to grip a ledge with only their fingers on either side of a window. They must maneuver between the five windows by reaching or doing a lache, or jump between them.
The Invisible Ladder returns as the 10th obstacle. So far, that's been the case on each city finals course. Ninjas grab rings suspended from a hole in a platform and pull. When their movement stops, the ring catches their weight so that it looks like they are pulling themselves up a ladder, through the hole at the top of the finishing platform.
After a two-week hiatus, our next ninja fix will be from Philadelphia. The Philly city finals promise to not disappoint, with four women getting their opportunity to test the course. That's the most women to ever run a finals course in one city. Someone's gotta make it to Vegas, right?