To cleanse the palate. Gymnast, pole-vaulter, stuntwoman, and now — lady ninja. Or rather, the first lady ninja ever to complete stage one of the finals on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.” Which, I hope we can all agree, really should be an event at the next Olympics.
There is strategy here, even on the obstacles that appear to be simpler than others. Here’s Graff on the “sonic curve” at 1:12 of the clip:
Graff: So this one, because of the angle of the steps, you look at it and you assume that you have to lean to your right like you would on a banked track. It’s obvious, it’s the more athletic way to do it, the clear assumption — and it’ll send you straight into the water.
I’m keeping my shoulders over my hips, over my feet, staying perfectly upright. Because oddly enough, these steps are so grippy … you can stand on that last one, the most slanted one, and not slip off.
So the trick is to fight the urge to bank your turns, stay upright and, interestingly enough, this one seemed like you didn’t want to carry your momentum through to the rope because that’ll have you swinging parallel to the platform and you take a couple extra swings.
The half-pipe wall is the most impressive feat since she’s the first woman to do it, but that propeller trick is nifty too. Grabbing the propeller seems simple enough, grabbing the rope seems simple enough — but generating the momentum you need in mid-air to swing to the platform isn’t so simple. Graff had a plan for that too. On to stage two.