A year removed from “American Ninja Warrior” history and it may be about to repeat itself in a very exciting way. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, two competitors finished the “American Ninja Warrior” obstacle course, making it the first time in competition anyone has climbed Mr. Midoriyama on the show.
Geoff Britten and Isaac Caldiero proved to the world that it was possible to complete the monstrous course and now the women in the competition are ready to take some of that spotlight.
Speaking with Zap2it on the set of the Las Vegas finals, stuntwoman Jessie Graff says, “I think we’re all really psyched … We’re going to take it stage by stage, of course, but now everyone’s seen that it’s possible, so why can’t we do it too?”
The explosion of women competitors on “American Ninja Warrior” has been one of the best stories to come from the series, with competitors like Kacy Catanzaro and Meagan Martin becoming household names among fans of the show.
However, even with their popularity skyrocketing, a female has yet to make it to Stage 4 to compete for the million dollar prize. This year may be different, though.
“I would like to believe we can do it,” Meagan Martin says. She and the other female competitors are paying special attention to their training heading into the finals, making tweaks where needed.
“This time of the year we’re doing cardio, but I’m doing grip strength all year round because that’s something I didn’t have before. I’m still just catching up,” Graff says. “You know, we’re up against professional rock climbers, and I’m not a professional rock climber.”
“I’ve focused on cardio a lot more. I was a pole vaulter in college, but honestly that made me hate running,” Martin adds. “I think that’s helped a lot with breathing and being ready to get to the end of the course in a certain amount of time.”
For some, cardio isn’t an issue though. Enter Jesse LaBreck, the rookie competitor who qualified for the finals — alongside Graff and Martin.
“I kind of kept my training the same,” she says. “I’m trying to catch up, but I’m coming from a track background. So a lot of the training I do was sprinting and cardio related. I kept doing what I was doing and I’m hoping it’ll work.”
It’s training that has served her well. As can be seen in this clip of LaBreck, she’s the first woman to ever successfully complete the shelf grab obstacle. Could she be the first to climb Midoriyama as well?
It’s entirely possible, but fans need to keep in mind the obstacles on the course they can’t see.
“I think a lot of people forget when watching the show it’s not just about are you capable of doing the obstacles and do you have the endurance to do them all at once,” Graff explains. “It’s also that these are really finicky things that you’ve never touched before. Are you going to nail every one on the first try under that pressure in the middle of the night in the dust?”
To find out how Graff, Martin and LaBreck do in the Vegas finals, tune into “American Ninja Warrior” Monday, Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.