Wannabe Ninja Warrior

If you are looking for something to watch on TV this summer, let me recommend tuning in to G4 and NBC on August 4th and 5th.  An Ivy alumnus will be making his mark as the next American Ninja Warrior, this time without the assistance of a fiberglass pole.

The American Ninja Warrior competition is based on a Japanese show Sasuke where competitors go through a difficult obstacle course that involves climbing, jumping, hanging, balancing, and some other tricks that just need to be seen in order to be believed (check out some of the obstacles through these course completion video and wipeout video). There are six regional competitions where hundreds compete in the regional trials.  Thirty competitors qualify for each regional final (whether it be by completing the course or advancing through the course the fastest without completing it in order to fill out the field limit).  After the regional finals, a total of 100 competitors from across all of the regionals qualify for the National finals.  The National finals will be held in Las Vegas, Nev., where the person who conquers the last obstacle course gets crowned “America’s Ninja Warrior” and wins $500,000.

Multiple-time Heps champion and former conference record holder in the indoor pole vault David Slovenski (Princeton ’12) is one of the 30 competitors who qualified for the Northeast regional finals, which will be aired on TV in early August.  While he did not complete the 6-event obstacle course, he was declared one of the fastest 30 athletes through the first four obstacles: quintuple steps, downhill jump, prism tilt, and the rope swing .  He failed on the circle rings when his hand grip tired out.  A video of Slovenski’s run is not available online at this time.

“My friends, teammates, and coaches suggested I try Ninja Warrior about once a month for the last 5 years. They’d see me working out, walking on my hands, or jumping off mini tramps, and say “Have you ever seen that TV show Ninja Warrior? You’d be really good at it.” ” Slovenski shared with HepsTrack.  He opted to not apply for the show while he was still in college to assure that he would not get injured, even though he recognized he could have been a better competitor.

Now that he’s graduated, he still maintains a healthy diet, exercise routine, and active lifestyle through being a pole vaulting coach for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, N.Y.  He applied for the show this year, feeling he had enough residual strength to make it through the course.  This application video was accepted and he went down to Balitmore to compete in the Northeast Regional competition.

Just to let the TV audience know, the competition was a bit more grueling than it showed on TV.  The competition occurred earlier this spring.  All of the competitors needed to sign confidentially agreements to not share anything about the results before they are aired.  Now that the trials have aired this past weekend, Slovenski had this to say about his trial round: ”The regional trials were really miserable. It was 35 degrees, windy, and rainy. We ran overnight from about 9pm to 6am. By the end we were all exhausted, soaked, and frozen.”

Still, he made it to the Regional Finals.  While the world will be waiting for the TV broadcast of the finals (check your local channel listings), Slovenski will be busy with his family summer camp “Slovenski Camps” (which includes pole vaulting, dodgeball, and SAT prep). Many other Ivy Leaguers will be assisting Slovenski at this camp, including Sydney Leroy (Harvard ’13, pole vault), Ann Giebelhaus (Harvard ’15, high jump), Tory Worthen (Princeton ’13, pole vault), his brothers Steve (Princeton ’09) and Michael (Harvard ’15), and their father Peter (Dartmouth ’79).



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