The city finals for Season 7 of American Ninja Warrior commenced during Monday night's episode, which was filmed in Venice, California.
Here's a look at the 15 competitors who advanced to Las Vegas final:
|American Ninja Warrior—Venice Final Results|
|2||Kevin Bull||4:45.38||Invisible Ladder|
|3||David Campbell||4:48.50||Invisible Ladder|
|4||Alvaro Campos||3:07.90||Clear Climb|
|5||Grant McCartney||3:27.53||Clear Climb|
|6||Jessie Graff||4:40.27||Clear Climb|
|7||Dustin Rocho||2:00.68||Tumbling Dice|
|8||Ben Melick||2:26.48||Tumbling Dice|
|9||Ryan Robinson||2:55.57||Tumbling Dice|
|10||Almas Meirmanov||1:38.53||Salmon Ladder|
|11||Justin Tirado||0:24.66||Hourglass Drop|
|12||Sam Goldstein||0:25.75||Hourglass Drop|
|13||Michael Burkett-Crist||0:27.11||Hourglass Drop|
|14||Azeo Torre||0:30.34||Hourglass Drop|
|15||Theo Agu||0:30.91||Hourglass Drop|
|Source: NBC broadcast|
The "Hourglass Drop" proved to be the trickiest obstacle on the course for the majority of the athletes.
The competitors had to inch across two hourglass-shaped shelves hanging in the air. In between those shelves was a trampoline each of the contestants had to hit perfectly. Jumping on trampolines is generally an enjoyable exercise, but it was a nightmare for the Venice finalists.
This wasn't an isolated incident:
Even those who did manage to traverse the "Hourglass Drop" had their upper-body stamina put to the test with the "Salmon Ladder" and "Rumbling Dice." Quite a few competitors fell off the "Rumbling Dice" because their arms simply gave out.
Professional stunt woman Jessie Graff was one of the few to conquer the "Hourglass Drop" and became just the fourth woman in American Ninja Warrior history to complete the "Warped Wall." Compared to her everyday work as a stunt woman, the Venice course must have looked tame in comparison:
Graff eventually stumbled on the "Clear Climb," making it farther on the course than any competitor before her. Her 5'8" frame put her at a major disadvantage as she attempted to reach the handholds.
In case you're wondering whether Graff decided to take a little break from the whole exercise thing as she watched herself from home, she didn't, courtesy of The Melting Pot's Tim Mihalsky:
Grant McCartney was the second to reach the "Clear Climb" and, like Graff, also failed to finish the obstacle.
McCartney is one of the sentimental favorites, having lost his mother and grandmother in the space of a year. After he advanced through the Venice quarterfinals on the May 25 episode, McCartney admitted that training for American Ninja Warrior helped him work through a tough stage in his life.
"Trying to learn how to deal with that, the sadness and things, I had to hope in something," he said, per Steve Butera of WBIR in Knoxville, Tennessee. "I had to have something that built hope and joy when I didn't have any."
American Ninja Warrior host Matt Iseman isn't the only one rooting for McCartney to chase that $1 million prize:
McCartney might have counted himself lucky he exited at the "Clear Climb" since he avoided the "Invisible Ladder," which entailed the competitor grabbing gymnastics rings and propelling himself or herself up 25 feet using only his or her arms.
David Campbell was the first to reach the "Invisible Ladder" and was mere feet away from completing the course before he ran out of gas and lost his grip on the rings.
Just when it appeared the Venice final would go without a finisher, Nicholas Coolridge made the "Invisible Ladder" look easy, wrapping up the course in six minutes, 6.39 seconds. He seemed to find the right strategy, using smaller, short bursts with each hand to work his way up the ladder:
Perhaps not coincidentally, Coolridge was also the only competitor from Monday's episode who was an admitted dumpster diver:
I'm not saying dumpster diving will help you win American Ninja Warrior, but I am saying it didn't preclude Coolridge from advancing to the final in Vegas.
The top finisher from the Venice regional, Kevin Bull, was the last to compete. He looked set to complete the course after rather easily working his way through. After getting roughly 20 feet up the "Invisible Ladder," Bull's upper body failed him, and he fell just short of the final buzzer.
Bull will undoubtedly be a major challenger in Vegas, though.
American Ninja Warrior will shift to Kansas City, Missouri, for next Monday's episode of the city finals.