Kacy Catanzaro

Kacy Catanzaro is the first woman to make it to the finals of American Ninja Warrior

It’s not often that I’m able to catch American Ninja Warrior — the show that pits extremely fit gymnasts and atheletes against “ninja”-like tasks that are, at times, inconceivably difficult — but when I do, I’m never disappointed.

Participants run through obstacle courses to try to complete them not only in full but also in the fastest amounts of time possible. In the entirety of the show’s history, no female competitor has ever made it to the finals. But that all changed Monday when Kacy Catanzaro, a former Division I gymnast at Townson University, excelled during the semifinal course.

She made it look easy, too. And even just from the look of the obstacles, nothing that she did Monday was even relatively easy.

Catanzaro was at a disadvantage throughout the other rounds as well as throughout the course she most recently dominated. At only five feet tall, she had to make use of her flexibility and agility to more of an extent than her taller competitors. But with her small frame comes her low weight — only 100 lb. — which allows her to have less to lift while climbing stairs with her arms, holding onto moving barrels with only her fingertips, and shimmying up elevator shafts.

She finished the course in a half second under eight minutes, and she did it with style. She stopped after each obstacle she finished to examine her next obstacle, to get her mind set and cheer at the crowd. At one point, she yells out to the crowd: “I love you guys. Thank you.” The roaring of the those in attendance shows their clear support of her run. The exasperation from the announcers shows the magnitude of what she accomplished.

Catanzaro seemed to experience only one slip — a single failing to reach a hook with a ring she was using to descend an incline plane made of rungs. Her miss with her left arm sent her swinging toward her right; in a moment, though, it looked as if the slip had never occurred, and she steadied herself back into form, hooking her left ring back onto the rung.

She will soon make her way to Las Vegas where she will face off against the other finalists to try to be the first person ever in American Ninja Warrior history to complete the final course.

A video of Catanzaro’s semi-final run can be found, along with further analysis, at the Huffington Post.

Image courtesy of Nan Palmero via Flickr.