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Old 05-18-2017, 02:28 AM
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TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PRELIM #5

Man, what a day. It had a little of everything: Old and new, wild and conventional, fast and slow, graceful and clumsy. Oh, and why not make a little more history while theyíre at it.

Team Alpha: Dillon Gates, Kacy Catanzaro, Brent Steffensen
Steffensen was surprisingly candid in the preview, admitting that he was responsible for his teamís failure last year. There was a time when the ďroyaltyĒ (gawd, I hate that word) were trailblazers, but now Jessie Graff is the undisputed queen and a bevy of powerhouses have tamed Ultimate Cliffhanger. Do these fading stars have anything left?

Karstenís Fast Kats: Kevin Klein, Joy Strickland, Karsten Williams
First-time squad, so of course I donít really have anything to say, but serious question...is there genuine, honest, verifiable evidence of anyone at fricking all giving Kevin Klein crap for being a Dallas Cowboys flagrunner? The show seems to think that this should be happening, but even YouTube seems to be cool about it.

Flowmingo: J.B. Douglas, Luci Romberg, Alan Connealy
Connealy freely admits in the preview that his four close losses really, really hurt, and heís seriously itching to get that orangutan off his back. You know what...so am I, friend. So am I. Kick someoneís butt out there today, will ya?

Storm Team: Josh Levin, Allyssa Beird, Joe Moravsky
Joe Moravsky obviously realized some things werenít working (Thing Not Working #1: Rob Moravsky) and shook things up. He can never be counted out, but will his new supporting cast succeed where his old one so repeatedly failed?

Fifth obstacle: Fly Wheels - Three fixed hanging wheels in succession. The first two are fixed; the last swings back and forth.

= 1st match: Team Alpha vs. Karstenís Fast Kats =
__L: Gates vs. Klein - A quick and (very) dirty rookie opener: Klein opens up a slight lead after Sonic Swing, hits the second gap in Ring of Fire, goes for the dismount, and does a complete pratfall on the edge of the landing cushion before tumbling backwards to failure. Gates nonchalantly completes the obstacle and will no doubt be completely unprepared for the second half. Gates/distance
__W: Catanzaro vs. Strickland - A woman who hasnít achieved anything lately vs. a woman who hasnít achieved anything...ever. Not feeling very optimistic about this, is what Iím saying. Strickland is cement-footed through Sonic Swing, giving Catanzaro the lead. Both women struggle horribly with Ring of Fire, getting hopelessly snagged by both gaps; Strickland takes the lead. But she needs a second swing to get through Swing Jump, and Catanzaro goes back in front. On to Floating Tiles...and Catanzaro falls on the second solo tile...but recovers! Strickland hops through, falls on the same tile, and her feet hit the water...but she also gets back up! Now Fly Wheels, and Catanzaro works her way to the third wheel...and she is taking a damn long time to set up the dismount. Strickland catches up, and Catanzaro finally dismounts...and she is taking a damn long time to start the wall! (And yes, of course there has to be a beeh daah waww chant.) No miracle, however, as Catanzaro goes first and gets up, while Strickland comes up short. Man, was not expecting a wild seesaw battle from these two; by my count there were six lead changes! Catanzaro/finish
__A: Steffensen vs. Williams - Williams is quicker off the blocks, then gets through Ring of Fire clean and fast, while Steffensen gets caught in the second gap and looks lost. Steffensen finally gets free but simply cannot match his foeís speed, and despite a late surge on Fly Wheels comes up well short. Williams/finish
And all of a sudden a team that started out 2-0 has its backs to the wall. Williams is at ease and looks like he didnít even break a sweat, and itís looking pretty likely that either Gates or Steffensen will get absolutely creamed by him. The anchor, people! Get a dominant anchor! You can get away with mediocrity in the other two spots! Sheesh!
__T: Gates vs. Williams - Gates looks strong early but gets imprisoned by the second Ring of Fire gap just like Steffensen. Williams is briefly in the first gap but is soon past, and thatís pretty much all she wrote. Gates gets as far as the second wheel before Williams slams the door shut. Williams/finish
KARSTENíS FAST KATS WINS

Brent Steffensen has four losses in four heats, and itís pretty obvious that Gates canít carry the team on his back. If anyoneís willing to bet on Team Alpha against you in the second half, better take it right away, because thatís looking like as close to a lead pipe cinch as youíll ever get. (Hypothetically, of course. No oneís actually betting on TNW. I mean, címon, don't be ridiculous.)

= 2nd match: Flowmingo vs. Storm Team =
All right, hereís the scoop...the women will be going first. That in itself isnít unusual. However, Connealy is so desperate for a win that heíll be taking the second, supposedly leadoff run...although heís still ďofficiallyĒ the anchor...and Douglas will take on Moravsky in the anchor. Iíll keep the letters the same for clarity, but I really donít like seeing this finagling for finagling sake, never mind the fact that it very rarely ever works out.
__W: Romberg vs. Beird - Romberg takes the early lead but gets stuck in the second Ring of Fire gap. She canít seem to get any kind of rhythm and is stuck in there for a long time. Beird gets caught in the first gap, then the second...and she takes the plunge. Romberg takes four more swings before finally committing...and coming up short! Geez, this has to be the frigginí slowest ďspeedĒ victory ever! Romberg/speed
__L: Connealy vs. Levin - Connealy is faster out of the blocks. He finds both gaps while Levin only finds the second, but takes much longer to get out, and Connealy remains in the lead. Connealy clears Floating Tiles by leaping through the solos, gets on the wheel...and that was a quick dismount! He hits the buzzer and FINALLY!! Yeah. Connealy/finish
Quick question: Is there any advantage to leaping through Floating Tiles rather than running? I mean, if anything, running at full tilt should be faster than setting up two big high-angle leaps.
__A: Douglas vs. Moravsky - Douglas is briefly in front but takes water on the second swing of Sonic Swing...and takes far more water when he splashes down in Ring of Fire. Itís uncertain whether he intentionally went for a second gap dismount, but either way, the dismal result is the same. Itís tough enough to win without giving opposing anchors freebies! Moravsky/distance
So now Flowmingo has an interesting call. Obviously Douglas isnít very fatigued and can go again...BUT!! If he LOSES!! He has to GO!! Right BACK!!...whoops, my bad. Ahem...if he loses, he has to go right back to work as the leadoff man in the 3rd match, and that may be a bit too much to ask from him. But given how hard Connealy was breathing after his run, it would be a bad idea to overtax him as well. Whoís it gonna be? Whoís it gonna be? Hoozigubby? (Hey, if Iím already saying ďwaiweewuwwaweiĒ... )
__T: Douglas vs. Moravsky - LSYTTA! (Um, thatís ďLetís see you try that again!Ē Hey, makes more sense than ďhoozigubbyĒ...) Moravsky is clean through Ring of Fire and is setting a blistering pace. Unexpectedly heís cautious through Floating Tiles and allows Douglas to catch up. On to Fly Wheels...and Douglas dismounts first and charges to the wall! He gets up, and...heís slow getting up, and Moravsky completely catches up! Itís going to be close...Yes! Moravsky did it! Agility at the top of the wall prevails! This has happened a few times already, people, wake up! Moravsky/finish
STORM TEAM WINS

So both eventual first half winners fall in a deep hole and are bailed out by their anchors. I canít remember a time this has happened before. And man, how big a difference that split-second defeat made for Flowmingo. Had they won, theyíd get a nice long rest before facing a battered Team Alpha in the final match; as it is, Douglas has to get right back to work and somebody needs to find a way to beat the super-quick Williams. This is about the biggest first-half turn Iíve ever seen. I hope it doesnít become a habit. Iím kinda uncomfortable with the idea.

= 3rd match: Flowmingo vs. Karstenís Fast Kats =
__L: Douglas vs. Klein - Both are clean through Ring of Fire, and it looks like itís going to be another close one. But Kleinís more nimble, getting better exits from Swing Jump and saving time on Fly Wheels by going hand-over-hand. Douglas makes it a contest but doesnít make it nearly as exciting as last time. Klein/finish
What the...oh, come on, Klein. Not cool. It is way too early to be dancing.
__W: Romberg vs. Strickland - 3WAíd due to time constraints. Itís over quickly when Romberg divebombs off the net on Swing Jump. Hey, wasnít she supposed to be one of the good ones? Strickland/distance
__A: Connealy vs. Williams - Connealyís gambit has become a complete bust, and now he needs to take two off a speed demon to have a chance of racing another day. Whatever minuscule hopes he has get snuffed out on Ring of Fire, as Williams is clean again. Connealy is stuck in the second gap and falls further and further behind, the deficit eventually reaching two whole obstacles. Williams trots up the wall and completes the slaughter while Connealy is still looking at the wheels. Williams/finish
KARSTENíS FAST KATS WINS

Hold it, KFK already has an order for the final? Yes, Williams confirmed it. That is...a thing that has never happened before and I have absolutely no idea how to judge it.

= 4th match: Team Alpha vs. Storm Team =
__L: Gates vs. Levin - Levin has a slim lead after Sonic Swing, and...holy crap, did Gates just clear both gaps with ONE leap? Yes, yes he did! (And yes, Iíd be totally stoked if that became The Move.) Levin fights hard but never threatens. Gates/finish
__W: Catanzaro vs. Beird - Catanzaro is far from the strongest lady, but somehow she manages to never have to face someone who can beat her. (In fact, Iím seeing this quite a bit...how is that after 13 days of competition weíve never had one genuine marquee matchup so far?) Beird plods at the start, and Catanzaro...takes water on the second swing! This could be huge! Theyíre working their way through Ring of Fire...and Beird is the first one out! On to Swing Jump...AND CATANZARO MISSES THE FIRST TRANSITION, WHILE BEIRD MAKES HER FIRST ATTEMPT COUNT! This could be history in the making!! Catanzaroís perfect mark is in jeopardy!! The qu...er, princess is about to go down!! Beird has a huge lead going into Floating Tiles!! She *SPLASH*...sigh, not today, folks. She flat out misses the right tile on the second pair, slips off, and gets wet. Now all Catanzaro has to do is stay upright, and Iím not even going to touch that T******* D***** nonsense anymore. 4-0, suck-ahs. Catanzaro/distance
__A: Steffensen vs. Moravsky - It looks like the ideal situation for yet another steal, but for the team to win, the anchor has to win, and right now the tally is Moravsky 5, Steffensen 0. Can the old, battered king find a way? Moravsky has faster feet and is clean through Ring of Fire. Steffensen only gets the first gap, but thatís enough to put him well behind. Steffensen misses the first transition on Swing Jump, and that seals his fate; Moravsky prances through the remaining course and hits the buzzer with two obstacles to spare. Moravsky/finish

Whoa. Iím pretty sure this is the first time weíve had three tiebreakers in one day. Well, no sense beating around the bush; itís pretty obvious whoís going to close this one out. I mean, who else is there? These athletes may be sentimental, but theyíre not brain-dead. Yep. Totally obvious. Clear as a bell.

__T: Steffensen vs. Moravsky - SERIOUSLY?? Steff...buddy...look. You canít beat this guy. Heís too good. ADMIT THAT YOUíRE NOT UP TO IT AND LET GATES HAVE A SHOT! I mean, heís no Dan Polizzi or Chris Wilczewski, but at the very least heíll make a fight of it, way more than anything youíve ever proven to be capable of! Huh...I thought we were done with this nonsense. Well, not much to say about this. Moravsky takes Ring of Fire with two fluid hops, forcing Steffensen to step it up, which he does with a second gap dismount, which could have possibly ended more disastrously for him. He goes straight up, then straight down, and (yes!) straight in. Moravsky/distance
STORM TEAM WINS

Steffensen is now 0-6 all time; I checked, and yes, this is the absolute worst record of all TNW competitors. I donít know what itís going to take to prevent him from coming back, but I hope it happens real soon. As for Moravsky, he makes history as the first ever competitor to go 4-0 for the day, and even more incredibly, he doesnít look tired at all. Barring a massive blunder, the Relay Showdown could be a done deal.

= Final: Storm Team (Beird, Moravsky, Levin) vs. Karstenís Fast Kats (Strickland, Klein, Williams) ==
Beird is in front after Sonic Swing, but Strickland only hits the second gap while Beird gets both and takes the lead. Strickland gets on the net easily but struggles to get off, while...

Dammit, Beird! All you had to do was stay dry! Donít try to be a heroine, donít force anything, just STAY DRY! You had one job! ONE! Yep, she swings to the net, she makes the transition, she just flippiní loses the handle. Just like that. As pathetic an unforced error as Iíve ever seen on this show, and thatís saying a lot. That means Beird has splashed out all three times she was on the course, and this one couldnít have come at a worse time.

So what looked like it would be a good contest is now a complete laugher. Klein, who started out rough but looked solid in his second outing, just has to set a good pace and the overmatched Levin wonít have a prayer of closing the gap. Sure enough, Moravsky runs like heís being chased by that Temple Run 2 monster (hey, I gotta use my old IPad for something ), but even he canít do the impossible. Klein avoids any mistakes and makes the tag cleanly, and Williams is off to the races. Dammit, you hate to see a...

...wow, that fast? Levin gets the tag while Williams is only on the fourth rung of the Salmon Ladder! Sadly, itís still going to be all for naught, as Levin doesnít have any...

...Levin is keeping up! Williams canít pull away, and Levin is still in it! Wow, never wouldíve predicted this in 50, maybe 75 years! Williams completes Globe Graspers about three seconds ahead. Now it comes down to the final test, the great equalizer, the divider between man and boy. Itís a tight one...Williams maintains a small lead...

...and Levin passes him! He found one final burst of speed and blew right by! AND HEíS UP! AND HIS HAND IS ON THE BUZZER! THEY DID IT! SADDLED WITH THE MOST WORTHLESS, INEPT, CLUMSY ALBATROSS IMAGINABLE WHO COULDNíT FIND A NET WITH okay maybe I should just enjoy the moment.

STORM TEAM WINS

MVP picks: Catanzaro, Moravsky. The former proved how the vast the gulf between the best women and everyone else still is, and the latter, hey, who the hell else could I give it to on any week? Big letdown by the frontrunners for the second week in a row. Iím almost tempted to throw it to Levin, but no, not someone who went 0-2. Besides, I donít throw things. No accuracy.