Brookswood resident Tristan Kasmer improved upon his last appearance at the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association (UNAA) World Series championship final, finishing in the top five amateurs at the Minneapolis, Minnesota event held from Friday, July 26 to Sunday, July 28.
Kasmer was one of three Canadians to make the top five, out a field of more than 60.
“It looks like America has to step up its game,” the event announcer remarked.
Last year, competing against athletes from the U.S., Australia, and the United Kingdom, Kasmer finished in the middle of the pack, which was the first year the UNAA opened the competition to other countries.
This year, he was more relaxed, and that, combined with his focus on error-free balance running, helped him move up.
“Unlike other contestants, I take balance obstacles as seriously as I take strength obstacles,” Kasmer explained.
“There were quite a few trip-ups [by other competitors].”
It also helped that he has his own obstacle course in his back yard, one that he can adjust to focus his workouts.
“Having stuff in the back yard definitely does [help],” Kasmer explained, because he can get a workout without driving to the gym, and he can also adjust the course to focus on areas that need improvement.
Kasmer, a fan of the “American Ninja Warrior” television show, built his own tribute to the challenging obstacle courses featured on the show in the spacious backyard of his home.
For the last two years, his homemade course has become the site of an informal “Backyard Ninja Invitational,” that draws dozens of people, mostly kids, to climb and jump around and over an array of obstructions.
While online postings suggest there are many backyard obstacle courses in the U.S., the Langley challenge may be the only one of its kind in Canada.
Filling up most of the yard, the course describes an “S’ curve of challenges ranging in difficulty from rings and grips, to a climbing wall and a balance challenge of oddly-angled tree stumps that require careful stepping, just to name just a few.
Portions of the obstacle course are taller than the first storey of the family home.
Kasmer’s top-five finish in Minneapolis netted him a cash prize and an automatic move up to pro status.
At 38, he plans to continue competing until he qualifies for the 40-plus masters level.
“I got a couple years,” he laughed.
Growing popularity of the sport recently saw creation of the Canadian Ninja League , established by a group of Canadian gyms, that will be in charge of qualifying events leading up to the world championships next year.
“It’s definitely a good sign” Kasmer commented.
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