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S00.E03: USA vs. the World 2014.09.15

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Five of the top competitors from "American Ninja Warrior" go head-to-head against competitors from Japan and Europe in a high-stakes competition on the show's famed four-stage finals course. (3-hr)

Representing Team USA are competitors Brian Arnold, Elet Hall, Paul Kasemir, Joe Moravsky and Travis Rosen. All of these worthy athletes are veterans of "American Ninja Warrior" and have made it to the show's Las Vegas finals in past seasons.

Team Japan will include a formidable collection of both seasoned and up-and-coming athletes: Kazuma Asa, Hitoshi Kanno, Ryo Matachi, Shingo Yamamoto and Yusuke Morimoto. Yamamoto has competed in every season of Japan's "Sasuke."

Team Europe will be represented by Stefano Ghisolfi, Vadym Kuvakin, Sean McColl, Tim Shieff and Miska Sutela. Ghisolfi and McColl are both champion rock climbers, and McColl won the rock climbing World Cup in 2012. Kuvakin is a former Olympian for the Ukraine in gymnastics and is a current member of the Cirque du Soleil cast for "Le Reve" in Las Vegas. Shieff, a successful competitor on several seasons of "American Ninja Warrior," is a world champion free runner.

 

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Anybody else want to put an asterisk to Team Europe's win? Sure, they won fair and square, but they needed a Canadian living in France to pull it off.

 

I think the story has to be Japan's failure to score a single point, even though two of their own finished the third stage. That's pretty sad, especially when at least one guy got cut short, footage-wise, while failing the second stage. Runner-up has to be Brian Arnold exorcising his demons and finishing the third stage, becoming the first American to finish there, and forcing the Stage Four climb-off. Good thing the announcers were shot from the waist up, because it would've be grisly otherwise. I don't think it would've been messy as Kacy finishing the first stage, but it might have been embarrassing.

 

One way Japan has a leg up on us . . . they do Sasuke twice a year. Meanwhile, we'll wind up forgetting Brian Arnold, Joe Moravsky, Kacy, and the rest of the gang until nine months from now. Couldn't NBC prop up Midoriyama and do away with the preliminaries, inviting 100 competitors to run the course? Even if a brash show-off winds up winning the million bucks, it would still be an exhilarating 4-5 weeks of coverage. Or at least have the Americans and Europeans run the Sasuke course in Japan, and see if the locals can win on their own turf.

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Is the Sasuke course scaled smaller than the American course?  The average height in Japan is shorter than in the U.S.  I don't understand how the Japanese athletes could have so much more experience but still fare so poorly during the international competition.

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I wonder why they didn't pick Isaac C. to be a specialist for Stage 3 and Stage 4?  He's one of the best climbers in the world.  It would have been fascinating to see him go head to head with Sean McColl.

 

I feel badly for Team Japan.

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That Canadian French rock climber was insanely good especially considering he had never run this type of course before. Congrats to the athletes who finished stage 3. All were impressive, but I really have to feel bad for the two Japanese guys who finished, yet still couldn't score any points for Japan.

That's two years in a row that Japan has basically been humiliated by their overall performance. The two finishes on stage III could not make up for the horrid performance on stage one and the suck fest that was stage two. It's very hard to understand why. Is it jetlag? Overwhelming pressure? Lack of decent sushi? What is it?

Edited by Iguana

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I wonder why they didn't pick Isaac C. to be a specialist for Stage 3 and Stage 4? He's one of the best climbers in the world. It would have been fascinating to see him go head to head with Sean McColl.

I feel badly for Team Japan.

I thought the same thing about Isaac C. - that they should have picked him as he's our most talented in all things climbing. Would have loved to see him do stage 3 and 4!

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I found myself watching the Americans in stage 3 and wondering why NONE of them had changed shoes. You know there's an upside down rock wall with little tiny niches and you still wear the big ol' clunky cross trainers?

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What a bunch of World power baloney. So glad team Europe won. Thought it was going to be another washout travesty like last year, but Europe came to play.

Did they let the other teams practice on the obstacles at least once? That's an unfair advantage, since every American got at least a couple of runs on the obstacles. Even at the Olympics and Worlds, you get a course run through practice to test out the course. So many 'new obstacles' that the visiting teams had never seen or been on. Slight variations on existing obstacles that Team USA had played on several times in qualifying, previous seasons, and the season finale. It's very obvious this was designed to let Team USA be victorious yet again. Not fair...and I'm an American.

Japan got owned. They don't have the height to compete with the tall Europeans and Americans. The tallest dude on their team was 5'7". Pretty sad when all your competitors are played 'during the commercial break', a slot usually reserved for the losers that don't complete. Course designer should have accounted for the gross height difference like they do in the Olympics or used obstacles that didn't require one to be tall to successfully complete. Felt bad for how bad they got owned. Although Ninja Warrior started in Japan, the competitors don't have the extensive training facilities like they have over here, the finances, or the extreme sports culture. Fortunately, the European competitors also had an edge, rock climbing which allowed them to surmount all the other BS. Ghisolfi did so good on Stage 3. What obstacles were designed to give Team Japan an edge? None.

However, I was impressed with Matachi & Yasuke Morimoto on Stage 3. Even though they lost all other legs, they awesome, like a pro! Killed stage 3! Wow! Maybe Japan needs to just retire the old guard and let new folks take the stage. Perhaps not rely so much on history and tradition. I was surprised they brought back 4 of the athletes who lost last year. I'm sure when the Japanese government hears about this disappointing years' loss, they will get involved, and create a training program for promising competitors. They need a coach to teach them technique, financial backing, and oversight in their training. This will allow them to improve in future years.

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Anybody else want to put an asterisk to Team Europe's win? Sure, they won fair and square, but they needed a Canadian living in France to pull it off.

Come on! It's USA vs the World, not North America vs. The World. Watch the Olumpics or Worlds and you will seem any athletes claim countries that they were not born in. Unless he was born or has affiliations with the USA, he's not team USA, plain the simple. Just cos the dude is Canadian living in France doesn't mean that the European win wasn't valid. All their players were great, and it was a team win.

 

Hope more nations will join in next year. Will be great to see the Aussies, or China compete too.

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I have no idea why the Japanese team didn't do well, but there's no inherent reason why they shouldn't have been competitive.  These are pretty much the current best contestants, except for Shingo who is past his prime a bit.  My one change to the team would be to sub Shingo for Uruushihara, the scrawny looking shoe salesman who has two total victories in the last four or so years. None of the obstacles should be seen as having an unfair advantage against them.  They have been practicing the major obstacles for years, longer than American Ninja Warrior has been a thing. Morimoto's been on this show half of his life, as he debuted as a high schooler. Other than travel, they should have been fine. Every one of those guys are capable of making it deep in the third stage. The first stage, especially, is not designed much differently than the Japanese first stage which has been in place for the last dozen tournaments. 

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I absolutely HATED the camerawork.  Two seconds of the competitors and then CUT AWAY to the TEAMS WATCHING.  Amateurish.  if you must, show the teams in Picture-in-Picture but I want to see someone do the ENTIRE COURSE, not cut away every time the director gets bored!!!  

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I really enjoyed that competition. I wish that's what the regular season had been like.

I concur. The current format relies on you being interested in watching 30+ hours of the same people attempting stage 1. I really liked the World competition because we got a taste of all the stages in a single special. My husband and I were completely over Ninja Warrior after this never ending, drawn out season, but this special pulled us right back in.

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I enjoyed the ANW vs the World. Disappointing that Japan couldn't do better. Especially disappointing that their winning Stage 3 runs were beat. I do wonder if the course was just too big for them, or if it was just unexpected obstacles. The rope challenge on Stage 2 knocked out two of them and I don't think Size is that much of a factor on that one. (The Butterfly jump on the other hand is all size).

 

The European team was impressive; but unlike the Japanese team, 2 of them had run the ANW courses before. One of them even lives in Vegas and works for La Reve (as they pointed out). Still, their Rock climbers were as impressive as everyone expected. The first one should have finished the horizontal jump one, but you could tell from the overhead shot his right side was barely hanging onto the platform. Still, the producers must have needed multiple pants changes; first from people beating Stage 3, then getting a tie forced so Stage 4 could finally be seen, and finally having a 3/10th of a second win. 

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I agree.  That really was so much more interesting than the regular season.  I'd love for them to do an "American Ninja Warrior:  Legends" special or something, where they invite a certain number of elite athletes in just to run the course, so we can see all three (or four) stages and fewer people.  As it is, it's just not that interesting to see huge groups of people do the same thing over and over again.

 

I'd be interested in knowing the height of their course tester and how they configure the course, because it looks to me that if you're under 5' 5", you're at a *serious* height disadvantage.  I wonder who the shortest person to finish the course was?  I'd like to see them configure it so it's at least *possible* for short people to finish it. If nothing else, that might draw more gymnasts.

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I agree.  That really was so much more interesting than the regular season.  I'd love for them to do an "American Ninja Warrior:  Legends" special or something, where they invite a certain number of elite athletes in just to run the course, so we can see all three (or four) stages and fewer people.  As it is, it's just not that interesting to see huge groups of people do the same thing over and over again.

 

I'd be interested in knowing the height of their course tester and how they configure the course, because it looks to me that if you're under 5' 5", you're at a *serious* height disadvantage.  I wonder who the shortest person to finish the course was?  I'd like to see them configure it so it's at least *possible* for short people to finish it. If nothing else, that might draw more gymnasts.

Funnily enough, the three guys who have finished the entire course are all 5'4" and under, according to this link. Not sure how official that is, but the three grand champions aren't man-mountains.

 

The small size is a major advantage in the third and fourth stage, which are all about strength to weight ratio. There's got to be a major difference holding up 140 pounds by your fingertips for 20 minutes vs. 225 pounds. There were some bigger guys who have made the fourth stage, but they haven't beaten the last climb.

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I enjoyed the ANW vs the World. Disappointing that Japan couldn't do better. Especially disappointing that their winning Stage 3 runs were beat. I do wonder if the course was just too big for them, or if it was just unexpected obstacles. The rope challenge on Stage 2 knocked out two of them and I don't think Size is that much of a factor on that one. (The Butterfly jump on the other hand is all size).

 

Don't forget about Cannonball Alley in Stage 3. I groaned when they stated "that they made it easier on Stage 3" by increasing the size of the cannonballs. That actually turned into a disadvantage for at least one of the Japanese contestants. They got on the bigger second ball and got stuck. A bigger circumstance does not seem easier to move around in that case.  Arnold did it right by bypassing that ball and going first-third-doorknob. 

 

Watching the special was fun, but I got the feeling that Stage 2 was harder than Stage 3 for them. Arnold stated that they all trained for Stage 3 and it showed. Propeller Spin does nothing for the difficulty of the stage. I would prefer seeing the Balancing Poles (which Kacy finished in her qualifying run) instead.  

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Funnily enough, the three guys who have finished the entire course are all 5'4" and under, according to this link. Not sure how official that is, but the three grand champions aren't man-mountains.

 

Did those guys finish all three stages at Mount Midoriyama?  If so, good for them for making it through the Spider Jump.  I just remember watching the Season Six finals and noticing how often the shorter competitors went *splat*.

 

I liked Stage 3 best of all of the stages.  Stage 2 would have been fine, except too many people went out on the first obstacle during the Season Six final.  I found that to be really boring. 

 

In terms of the USA vs. the World thing, I think having made it through the previous season gives the US competitors an unfair advantage.  I'd like to see the other athletes get to go through the course as a training run. 

 

I'm still tremendously impressed by that Canadian French guy.  He's unbelievable.

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Finally saw the whole thing (the night of I only saw from stage 3 on).

How about that team Europe guy's 1:02 run of stage 1 - that was impressive how he just went right up the warp wall from that half pipe platform. And they were saying that guy never ran the course before?

The Japan stage 1 and 2 mistakes looked like stamina problems to me, serious ones - giving up on the ropes when time wasn't an issue, unable to get up the warp wall? - I know the runway is a lot shorter, but that should be a basic skill for any elite ANW contestant - that guy was completely out of energy after one try. Even the ones that finished stage 3 were slow at it - so maybe it was a fatigue/jet lag issue? I think they saved those 2 guys some embarrassment by only showing an excerpt of their falls from the ropes, so it actually wasn't too bad that the show did that IMO.

Team Europe had some really amazing dudes - wow. They were saying that most of them were going through those stages for the first time and they were just amazing - even some of the ones that fell you knew if they were allowed to just try it one more time they'd set a fastest time record and never miss again.

That McColl rock climber guy was unbelievable in everything he did - like doubling up the salmon ladder and that body slam off of the metal chain thing. And kudos to Travis Rosen for being able to climb that rope as fast as him at the age of 40.

Very exciting ending.

Edited by MyFavShows
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Funnily enough, the three guys who have finished the entire course are all 5'4" and under, according to this link. Not sure how official that is, but the three grand champions aren't man-mountains.

 

The small size is a major advantage in the third and fourth stage, which are all about strength to weight ratio. There's got to be a major difference holding up 140 pounds by your fingertips for 20 minutes vs. 225 pounds. There were some bigger guys who have made the fourth stage, but they haven't beaten the last climb.

 

Still, that brings up the question of whether the obstacles have been scaled up for bigger people.

 

I was disappointed they didn't ask Kacy to be part of the team. The Spider Jump was controversial with a lot of the new viewers she brought to the show, they complainted that the obstacle seems impossible to someone her size. The most common response was to say that her small size would be an advantage in the third stage. Putting her on Team USA and showing what she can do on the third course would have been a great way to respond to those complaints.

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I think Kacy is amazing, but she wasn't close to being a better choice than any of those guys on team USA - and quite a few guys that didn't make team USA too. She didn't even make it past stage 1, when what was it?, 18 people?, did, and only 5 of those 18 made the team. Her times in the courses she did compete were significantly slower too, and the USA vs. comps require you to be good, AND fast. If we were really in need of a stage 3 specialist, Isaac C. was the best choice for that IMO, cause he is fast and amazing at all things rock climbing (and he can do stage 1 ;)).

Plus Kacy didn't even go the furthest of the girls in Stage 1.

It just would have been obvious that they gave it to her only because she was a girl, and even selected over Meagan because she was a *short* girl - not because she was the best choice for the team.

I think they picked the absolute best group of people for team USA - those 5 guys are all elite well-rounded contenders w/ skill and speed - only one I really would have liked to add was Isaac C., but really don't know who of the others I'd take off to put him in their place cause they are all so good.

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I'm glad they didn't bring Kacy back. Sure her run was impressive and probably gave ANW a huge ratings boost as the news spread; but I don't think she would have quite fit in on this competition.

 

Now if next year, they have America vs the World, with 3 men and 3 women per team (and have 4 rounds at each stage, 2 male, 2 female), that could be good. But does Japan have enough high tier female contenders to fill in their team? Of course, 4 rounds each stage could blow the time too; but if they cut the bios I'm sure they could squeeze the extra 30 minutes or so of runs in. Or maybe just split it over 2 nights of 90 minutes.

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Or just do an all female US vs the World. I'm guessing that Europe has some female gymnasts and rock climbers who could probably look good out there. And isn't there a female version of Sasuke in Japan?

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Yeah . . . Kunonchi. All I really remember was one female (I want to say Ayako Miyake) winning three seasons in a row, and the hapless Lady Sumo that always had to be dragged out of the water after she failed. But I don't think TBS in Japan has ran that in years.

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Just discovered this show a few months ago and saw this the other night, its fun to watch

Surprised the Japanese did so badly.

I can't do any of that stuff, amazing they make it look so easy

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Actually, can someone tell me why Travis Rosen wasn't disqualified for NOT completing the Double Salmon Ladder? All ninja's went to the top of the second set of rungs EXCEPT for Rosen. When he transitioned to the back half of the ladder, he skipped a set of rungs like he did twice on the front half. When the camera switches over to show the transition, there is clearly another set of rungs for him to go up before he can transition to the Unstable Bridge. I suspect if it wasn't required for them to go all the way up, the LiveWire would have skipped it too, especially since he had to take precious time to correct his askew bar on those top rungs.

 

Based on that, the 2 points for the second Heat of Stage 2 would have went to Team Europe, and we wouldn't have seen Stage 4. Therefore, I'm actually glad that Team Europe won stage 4 due to Rosen whiffing the air-buzzer. Neither of them should have been there to begin with.

 

Are the ANW producers so desperate to see Stage 4 on American TV that they'll overlook this for Team USA? If it's an honest mistake that the judges didn't see during the competition, there's plenty of time to edit the footage before air time. But it sickens me to think that the producers of the show may have pushed for it anyway simply so they can grab ratings. Weren't ninjas completing stage 3, including Brian Arnold's lovely redemption story, enough to pull viewers in?

 

With that one major exception aside, I enjoyed the episode and the show. So glad to see Stage 3 completed on US soil. However, that accomplishment is somewhat tarnished by the fact it occurred in a special world championship format and not in the regular season format.

 

Team USA was impressive. Glad to see Brian Arnold get some redemption with Stage 3 after going out early in the regular season. I also have to give props to Rosen for doing 3 rung skips in a row on the Double Salmon ladder even if he didn't complete it like everyone else.

 

Another disappointing showing by the Team Japan was painful to watch, especially on the Rope Jungle. I can't help think it's due to the course being calibrated and tested by Americans, which are usually slightly taller than the Japanese. I've never seen Sasuke, so I don't know if Americans perform worse in Japan than they do here.

 

However, my heart was won over by Team Europe, and I was rooting for them after Stage 1. I hope that admission doesn't get me drummed out of America and my citizenship revoked. My love started with the electrifying LiveWire performance, and was solidified with McColl's Stage 2 performance. They both (and the team in general) showed some creative thinking to complete the obstacles in an unusual manner. From the LiveWire's use of the transition ramp to go up the Warped Wall quicker, to McColll's end-on transition to the second board of the Unstable Bridge. McColl's use of his entire body to stick the Metal Spin landing reminded me of the unorthodox method Kevin Bulll used to get by Cannonball Alley at the Venice Beach Finals. What's even better is Team Europe had numerous rookies outdoing well-seasoned veterans on a course they've never competed on before. Amazing and inspiring!

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It seems to me, you don't have to complete anything, just get to the other side with out falling.  Like Joe did on the rolling dice, he got about half way through then it broke and he jumped.  We have seen this many times on different obstacles.  It might be easier to transition to the next obstacle by getting to the top rung of the salmon ladder, but there is probably not a requirement to.   

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It seems to me, you don't have to complete anything, just get to the other side with out falling.

 

I'm no authority on ANW but that's the way it seems to me too.  I've seen quite a few people on the regular shows skip rungs on the salmon ladder and the commentators are always impressed not critical.  At least two of the guys skipped the large hanging cannonball and went from 1 to 3 to the doorknobs and that was noted by Matt and Akbar and obviously acceptable.  I don't see any difference between skipping a rung and skipping a cannonball.

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On the regular Salmon Ladder seen throughout the season, there IS a level that they have to go up to in order to successfully complete it. It's marked by a different colored rung. While I suppose that might not be the case for the Double Salmon Ladder at the National Finals or the World Championship, it doesn't make any sense that there wouldn't be. Just because we haven't heard the rule, like not being able to hold onto the top/back of the qunituple steps, that doesn't mean the rule isn't there. In the few videos I've scanned on YouTube of past performances on the Double Salmon Ladder, Rosen and others have always went all the way to the top.

 

Nor is going all the way to the top the same as skipping rungs. It's the equivalent of running a marathon, but stopping one foot from the finish line. You may have ran the marathon, but you didn't complete the marathon. Of course, if someone can point to a definitive answer in a rulebook, or a YouTube video where someone else didn't go all the way to the top of the Double Salmon Ladder, I'll gladly concede that I was wrong.

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I see what you mean.  I hope someone who knows shows up because I'm curious now.  I tend to think what Travis did must have been OK because it was obvious to anybody watching and nothing negative was said or done about it.  Also, he wanted to win that stage so I don't think he would have done it if he knew it was against the rules.  

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Skipping extra rungs going up has always been allowed, for Single and Double Salmon Ladder. Usually the commentators will be wowed when it happens and things keep going. 

 

As for having to reach the top; in previous years I think I remember commentary about having to get to a certain rung, but that rule may have been waived for the International competition (or just dropped for the double salmon). Or it may not apply for double salmon ladder due to the extra challenge it has.

 

Reaching for the next challenge too soon will be a big risk regardless, so if a competitor thinks they can do it without being even with the bridge, all the more for them. 

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