NBC's summer series American Ninja Warrior is just days away from crowning the nation's fastest, strongest, and most agile obstacle athlete. Athletes from around the nation spent months training to swiftly move from one seemingly impossible obstacle to the next. The tasks mix body strength, endurance, and poise.
Two Coloradans, Paul Kasemir and Brian Arnold, earned positions in the Las Vegas finale, which will air this Sunday on NBC. Neither claims a membership to a normal gym, but both agree living in Colorado has helped their quests. Unlike much of their competition, they are privy to an unparalleled training ground of mountains, cliffs, and trails. We caught up with our local ninjas before the finale.
Paul Kasemir, 26, Longmont
Regional Final Time: 02.23.22
How he became a warrior: "I started three years ago when I started practicing Parkour, [the science of movement]. I study the fastest way to get over or around an obstacle."
How has Colorado helped him become a warrior: "I love to mountain bike. I’ve learned to adapt quickly to a changing situation. If you slip on a rock, you have to recover. If you fall off, you have to learn to fall without hurting yourself. When I go run the course at sea level, I feel like I could run for a lot longer."
Favorite obstacle: "The salmon ladder [like doing pull-ups, but you have to move the bar up a rung each time]. It is such an accomplishment to get up one rung at a time."
When he’s not training to be a warrior: "I dance tango at the Mercury Café."
Brian Arnold, Longmont
Regional Qualifying Time: 02.30.72
How he became a warrior: "Last fall, I saw a bunch of episodes and then I entered a local competition at a Parkour gym."
How has Colorado helped him become a warrior: "I don’t train specifically. I have been a rock climber for 22 years. I do a lot of sport climbing up in the Flatirons and Eldorado Canyon. I also climb at the Spot bouldering gym in Boulder, and also do a little trail running. It helps living here. I don’t get winded like the other guys. I don’t even realize how much just hiking up in the Flatirons helps."
What don’t the viewers see: "There is a lot of waiting around before you get to run the course. The first time I was really nervous. You can be at the start line for more than 30 minutes."
Favorite obstacle: "I love all the upper body stuff. That’s what I’m good at. I love the lamp grab [pictured]."
When he’s not training to be a warrior: Plays chess and can do one pinky pull-ups.
—Photo courtesy of G4