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Monday, April 13, 2009

Luci Romberg - Sasuke Woman of Steel - Sasuke 21

Luci Romberg doing a sideways flip in the air ©Luci Romberg

I had so much fun doing a story for Michael Milner (from Sasuke 20) that I really really wanted to do blog entries on anyone that managed to get on Sasuke. I'm always fascinated by the show and its participants. I'm always wanting to know who everyone is, where everyone comes from and how they go to the show. After all this is a show of so many people from different walks of life, different levels of athleticism and different occupations. I was very fortunate to get Luci Romberg to let me blog about her :)

Luci Romberg posing in front of the course in Sasuke 21 ©Luci Romberg

For those who don't remember who she is (or are outside of the USA and have never seen G4TV) - she is one of the winners of American Ninja Challenge 3 (or ANC3). (co winner with Mark Witmer and Brian Orosco). For the record I'm only doing Sasuke 21 (Yes she is competing in Sasuke 22 but is under NDA until it airs in G4 - sometime in June.. I think.. coming soooon™...) so I didn't ask any questions regarding that. In March I posted a request for questions here and on both the G4 boards and Proboards. Thank you guys so much for your support of the blog and below are included the questions you asked! A massive thanks also to Luci for being ridiculously uber awesome and not only answering the questions but going out of her way to make sure she did long and nice answers! I'm used to people just basically saying "yes" and "no", etc. and dodging questions. She didn't do that at all and answered all the questions... those she couldn't she tried her best! Anyway.. without further ado here's the blog entry on Luci Romberg!

Luci competing in Gymnastics ©Luci Romberg

While doing my research on her I was SHOCKED to find so much stuff on her! I mean seriously, her list of accomplishments as an athlete were astonishing! I mean I admit I knew nothing about her other than the entry video for American Ninja Challenge 3. It's easy so say "I was a gymnast" and stop there (heck I can say that even though I've never competed!). But not only was she a gymnast she was friggin' awesome in competition! 2003 National Collegiate All-Around Champion, 11 time All-American and 2 time Honda Award Nominee for outstanding Female Collegiate Athlete (2001) (2003). Actually for an awesome interview please read the CCAC North Campus Article. She is an alumni of Texas Women's University. She has her own Imdb page with all her stunt credits (can also be found here Stuntwomen profile). She's also a member of Tempest FreeRunning (with fellow ANC Alumn Brian Orosco).

Team Tempest in London, England ©Luci Romberg

Luci took the time to send me a synopsis of her Sasuke 21 experience before taking questions:
Sasuke 21 was my first entry. I am on a freerunning team called Team Tempest and my teammate, Diddy, who has entered himself before pretty much told me that we were going to make a video to submit. To be honest I really didn't know what Ninja Warrior was or how any of it worked. While making my video, I did not realize I would be competing against the men. When I found out my video made it to the top 19 I was excited and surprised. I would check the comments coming in from people and was so happy to hear the positive support. When I was contacted by G4 that I had won I was so excited but nervous. I was nervous because I did not want to disappoint people when there are so many talented and amazing guys who submitted. I had a lot of support from my family, friends, and teammates! I trained as much as I could and got ready. My goal for the course was to charge everything as much as possible, not hold back, and take one obstacle at a time.

The Barclaycard World Freerun Championships in London, England ©Luci Romberg

It was a crazy September for me. I left August 30th for London with my teammates (Team Tempest) for the Barclay World Freerunning Championships. I was in London only a few days when I flew out to Japan. I was unable to stay for the competition because I had to leave for Tokyo. It was a long flight but when I got to Japan I met Levi, Brian, and Mark at the airport.

We all got along so well and we had a fantastic trip!! We went to Muscle Musical, Muscle Park, freerunning with the local Tokyo guys, and around Tokyo for a day. We then got to the course and it was the greatest feeling just to be there. It was such an honor and the experience of a lifetime. Olivia and Kevin were so great as well. They are very nice and easy to get along with. I can't tell you the excitement I felt when I got to meet Nagano, Takeda, Yamamoto, Yamada, and Shiratori!! They are all such amazing athletes and it was such an honor to meet them. The day of the competition I was very nervous. I wanted to do well and make my family, friends, teammates, and G4 proud that they chose me to go. I feel like I did well, but I was a little disappointed I fell on the half pipe attack. Looking back I know what I did wrong. I should have run up the wall instead of straight at the rope. Anyway, I had one of the best times of my life and I am truly honored to be part of such an amazing competition and group of people.

Non-Sasuke questions:

Having no idea who you are personally.. I see "Steel" in some places and "Romberg" in others. Is it a married name? or is it more of a nickname like "NoSole" (Brian Orosco)?
My real name is Luci Romberg. Steel is my nickname my freerunning team, Team Tempest, gave me. NoSole and I are now both members of Team Tempest.

What came first - Freerunning or Stunts? What made you decide on each?
Stunts came first. In college (Texas Women's University) I was a National Champion gymnast as well as an All-Conference soccer player. My gymnastics teammate, Natascha Hopkins, who is a few years older than me, came back to visit my senior year. She had moved out to Los Angeles and was doing stunts and acting. She pretty much convinced me to move to LA and try it out. After I graduated (May 2004) I spent the summer traveling around Europe with my two best friends from high school. When I got back to Colorado (where I grew up) I stayed with my parents for a few months, saved some money by working at Chilis, then my mom and I made the drive to California on January 1, 2005. I trained and networked a lot in the stunt world and started working on various films and tv shows. My same friend, Natascha, booked the movie Paul Blart, Mall Cop as a freerunner/actress and started training with my now teammate Victor Lopez. I came along and started training with Victor and Team Tempest as well. This was about a year ago exactly (April 2008). I just clicked with the guys and they were looking to add a girl so it just worked perfectly. Freerunning is my new found love!! It is so freeing and it is the best feeling in the world to be able to do a move I never would have thought possible. Stunts and freerunning are my passions in life!!

Luci with her brother Brady ©Luci Romberg

Do you have any siblings?
My brother, Brady, is 2 years younger than me. He graduated from Colorado School of Mines with a physics engineering degree. He was the starting pitcher on the baseball team. He is an unbelievable athlete (just like my parents). After he graduated he came to LA for the summer to visit. I showed him the stunt world and he fell in love with it. He is now a professional stuntman and is our manager for Team Tempest.

Luci's sister Carly and Luci's parents ©Luci Romberg

My sister, Carly, is finishing her final semester of college in Spain. She has a full ride volleyball scholarship to the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She was libero (defensive position) of the year for two years in a row and is only the 12th player in NCAA history to get over 2,000 digs in her career! I'm hoping when she finishes this semester she will move out to LA and live with my brother and I in the new house we just bought together.

Luci in Muscle Park trying out the Shin-Cliffhanger ©Luci Romberg

How was your experience at Muscle Park?
Muscle park was fun! It was my first time on something like that and it was a great experience. I think it is a great thing for the general public to get to try. The cliff hanger there is made of wood and is really slippery from the oils on peoples hands. The salmon ladder is hard too. It is heavy and it sticks. I had trouble with that one. All the obstacles are hard. That is what makes Sasuke so great!!

Brian Orosco, Toshihiro Takeda, Luci Romberg, Shingo Yamamoto, Levi Meeuwenberg, Mark Witmer ©Luci Romberg

Sasuke questions:
It's a loooooooong day to tape Sasuke. What time did you get there? What did you do during the taping? When did it finally end?
If I remember correctly we left the hotel at 7:30am so we could be there by 8am. We had to do the shot with all the competitors and then they had a tester go through the course. They explained the obstacles in Japanese (which is obviously useless to me). We were able to watch as much as we wanted to. I love watching all the competitors, so for the majority of the day I watched people's runs. Before my run, I warmed up a little and stayed hydrated. I was really nervous and visualized the course several times. After my run, I was able to relax and enjoy the whole experience a little more. I goofed around with Olivia some, talked to Nagano, Takeda, Yamamoto, and Yamada. They were all so great. We had a translator the whole time and I had such a blast talking to all those guys. I brought Team Tempest t-shirts to give to all the All-Stars as gifts and they loved it. It was awesome!! When I was there for Sasuke 22 I talked to Yamamoto and his wife for awhile and he said he wears it to workout all the time. That made my day!! He was also really excited that I worked with Harrison Ford. He is a great guy!!

I can't remember exactly when we left Sasuke 21 but it was somewhere around 2 am I believe. I just remember I didn't get hardly any sleep by the time we drove back to our hotel in Shinjuku because I had an early flight to NYC. As soon as I landed in NYC I had to drive to the Hamptons and go straight to set (I was working on a pilot called Suburban Shootout for the last 3 weeks of September). It was a crazy but amazing month for me!!

Brian Orosco, Makoto Nagano and Luci Romberg ©Luci Romberg

Not knowing who most of everyone was since you really didn't follow the show as us geeks do - was there a competitor that you liked? (doesn't have to be an All-Star)
When I found out I was going I started watching it. Right away I like Yamamoto and Nagano. I though they were both so cute and inspiring. They are such great athletes and I love to watch them compete. They are truly amazing!!

For us All-Star geeks - did you have a favorite All-Star?
Yamamoto and Nagano. If I had to choose, I'd say Nagano. He is always smiling and happy to be there. He has such a great attitude and is an unbelievable athlete!!

G4 Representation in Sasuke 21 (Back Row) Mark Witmer, Brian Orosco, Levi Meewenberg. (Front Row) Kevin Pereira, Olivia Munn and Luci Romberg ©Luci Romberg

Do you have a favorite obstacle? (One you got to or even one someone else did that you wished you could try).
It's hard to choose a favorite obstacle because they are all so great and unique in their own way. My favorite obstacle I got to do was the barrel cling (Log Grip). For me, I'm so small, that I feel it is more fair because height doesn't necessarily give you an advantage and most obstacles, if you're tall you have an advantage. (I'm not complaining). The one I wanted to try the most was (I don't know the name) the backwards stairs on stage 3 (Devil Steps). It looked so fun to be that high in the air dangling from your arms!

(my own question) - In the post-show for Ninja Fest - Did Olivia break up that question thing with Nagano do give him candy or did you finish your conversation or was that all planned? What happened afterwards? (I know I was a bit perturbed when it happened so bear with me and no you don't have to answer it).
To be honest, I don't remember all that well. So much went on that day, but I'm pretty sure Olivia giving Nagano candy was not planned. She is just funny like that and will pop in and say or do something funny. I'm pretty sure I was finished talking with him. That I can remember, nothing happened after that.

Did you watch Sasuke 21 (TBS version in September) at all and/or did you watch Ninja Fest in November on G4?
I watched the TBS version several weeks after it came out and then I had some friends and my teammates over and we watched the G4 version together.

Last but certainly not least - I plan to use screenshots of you on the course (Note: I just used the G4 video) could you maybe do a summation of what you were thinking when you did each obstacle? That way when I use the screenshots of each we have a general idea of what you were thinking at the time.
This is a hard one... I was an athlete for so long that when I compete I just get in the zone and concentrate on the task at hand. I'll try to recap as best as I can:
  • On the sextuplet steps I was just thinking about being strong in my legs and not going too fast and being solid on each step. On the final step I made sure I had explosive power on my right foot to clear the gap.
  • On the barrel cling all I did was hold on for dear life. I mean, I held onto that darn barrel with everything I had!!!
  • On the pole maze I just made sure I had enough power into it to make it slide. I got a little disoriented when it spun me around but I just looked up and you can see where you need to jerk it. I was a little nervous I wasn't going to be tall enough to reach the platform off the pole but it turned out just fine.
  • On the jumping spider, it is pretty much a blur. I was pretty surprised when I made it because it is such a stretch for my short legs. I just made sure I hit the middle of the mini tramp and I got as high and far as I could and it worked out for me. It was a little slippery on the glass so I had to go a little slower than planned. But it was okay.
  • On the half pipe attack I was pretty tired going into it. I just ran as fast as I could and grabbed the rope (or tried to grab the rope). I was surprised at the thickness of the rope in my small hands and I was surprised when I hit the water. I thought I had it. DARN!!
Questions opened up to board members, etc. I'll do my best to get the names/usernames and locations correct along whether they were from the G4 boards and/or Proboards:

ShadyNinja from Florida (G4 boards) - How did it feel to go farther than any other woman on Sasuke 21 and for that matter farther than most of the competitors?
Thank you for the great question! I personally don't like to compare myself to others. I set personal goals and I was proud of how I did but I know I can do better. It's cool to say I got farther than any other female but there are a lot of females out there, that given the chance, would do way better than me. I was just honored to be there.

Luci ©G4

Ultimask8ter (G4 boards) - Did you get any SASUKE promo stuff, like a T-Shirt or something from the set? BTW great job on "out handstanding" all the guys! Your endurance is very impressive!
Thank you! I love to do handstands and I love being able to hold it longer than the guys ;) I bought (expensive) Sasuke t-shirts for my family (mom, dad, brother, and sister). We were given a t-shirt, but I gave it to my freerunning teammate (Team Tempest) Paul Darnell because he was the one who did my video and had me submit. Without him I wouldn't even know what Ninja Warrior is. I owe him a lot!! So after it was all said and done I don't have a shirt for myself but thats okay, I have the amazing memories.

Luci on the Morro in San Juan Puerto Rico (You know I had to include this pic) ©Luci Romberg

SRW (G4 boards) Hi Luci from England, I don't know if you can really answer this one or not but I'll ask, when Nagano and Takeda etc were doing stage 3 we saw Brian and Levi watching, were you watching stage 3 too? and if so I wondered if you could tell me - before the competitors attempt the stage does a tester actually do a demonstration through the whole stage first to prove everythings passable in short did you actually see a tester clear that evil gliding ring? Just wondered cheers
Hi!! Yes I was there for the entire competition. They use several testers throughout the stages. So on stage 3 they used 4 or 5 testers. I'm pretty sure the guy who tested the "evil gliding ring" passed it barely. He had a lot of trouble and that was the only obstacle that he tested so he had fresh arms and still could barely do it. Nagano is AMAZING!!! When I first saw stage 3 I remember thinking that there is no way anyone will ever pass this, but Nagano almost did! I was so impressed!

ANC3 arrive at Sasuke 21 ©G4

Talledega7 (Sasuke Maniacs Forums) - You were the first woman to be sent from the Ninja Challenge. What was the reaction people in Japan had to seeing you as a representative? Were they surprised that a woman had been chosen?
To be honest I really didn't notice them having a reaction one way or another. Most of the competitors probably had no idea who I was or where I was from. If they did they didn't say anything. I remember Nagano and Takeda said they were hoping I would be the first girl to clear the new stage 1. Too bad I couldn't live up to their expectations. I tried really hard though ;)

Rachael Harris and Luci Romberg (She was Rachel's Stunt Double) ©Luci Romberg

Brandon N. in Chicago (g4fan2007)(Sasuke Maniacs Forums) - Hey Luci, I was very happy to hear you were announced as a winner in ANC, as I voted for you. While you didn't make it past the first stage, you've became the only female to get as far as you did since the renovation. So, congrats with that accomplishment. Now my question: Who was the person you were around most, meaning who did you talk to the most, or would be near more often than others?
Hey Brandon. Thank you for your kind words and support. That means a lot to me that you voted for me! I'm a social person so I kind of like to hang out and chat with everybody. I hung out a lot with Levi, Brian, and Mark, but the whole G4 crew from producers to sound guys were so great! Olivia and Kevin are awesome too!! I spent a lot of time talking with Mark. He is a fantastic guy and it was so hard to see him injured because he would have done SO well.

Patrick from Chicago (Chief Illiniwek)(Sasuke Maniacs Forums) - Hey Luci, I was just wondering, what was going through your mind when you were starting your run on the course?
Hey Patrick. I was very nervous! I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I was so lucky to be there and I really wanted to represent not only the US but women everywhere. Being a national champion gymnast in college I know (somewhat) how to deal with pressure. I just focus on the task at hand and don't get ahead of myself. One obstacle at a time. I just wanted to focus on having fun because that is what it is all about.

Roberto from Long Island, New York. (homeslice)(Sasuke Maniacs Forums) - How did it feel to be the first woman to ever clear the dreaded Jumping Spider? What was going through your mind when you faced that obstacle?
To be honest I was pretty surprised when I cleared it. It is so far for my little legs to reach and I wasn't sure I would be physically able to do it. So I was pretty pumped when I got it. When I faced the obstacle I concentrated on hitting the middle of the mini tramp and getting as high and far as I could. I was lucky that I hit it just right and it worked out for me.

Luci and Katsumi Yamada ©Luci Romberg

chackpop (Sasuke Maniacs Forums) Luci, do you know where Washimi Yuji, motorcross guy number 89, or Okuyama number 95 failed in sasuke 21?
I am so sorry to say that I don't know where either of them failed. I could do some research for you but off the top of my head I don't know. Arsenette, a little help here :) Do you know? (Actually I don't know.. that's one of the mysteries only because TBS cut their runs)

Luci, Makoto Nagano and Levi Meeuwenberg ©G4

gazzawhite (Sasuke Maniacs Forums) I have 2 questions, which I know have been answered before by others, but confirmation/details from somebody more directly involved (i.e. Luci) would be great: 1. What were you and Nagano talking about? I gather it was about technique/improvement on the Halfpipe Attack (anything more detailed than that would be sweet ). 2. I was told that Mark did not do as well as others because he pulled a nerve from a side event conducted on the same day. Is that why he failed the Log Grip? Or were there other reasons? Thanks so much for considering these questions, Luci and Arsenette (even if you don't answer them)!!!
Nagano and I were talking about why I failed on the half pipe attack. It all happens so fast and I wasn't really sure why I failed. Nagano was telling me it was because I concentrated on the rope instead of the wall. I should have focused on getting higher on the wall so I would have had a better angle on the rope.
Mark had nerve damage on, I believe, his left hand. He injured it the day before, but I am not sure on what. I remember the night before he had no feeling and no strength in his left 2 or 3 fingers. Since he couldn't feel his fingers, no matter how strong you are, there is no way you could pass the log grip. It just falls too hard and violently. I just want to add what an amazing guy and athlete Mark Witmer is. It was such an honor to have had the opportunity to meet him.

Cody-Clemson, South Carolina (Ifrt)(Sasuke Maniacs Forums) - I have 2 questions, the 1st is pretty obvious 1. If Kunoichi/Women of Ninja Warrior is revived would you consider giving that course a shot? 2. What do you think based on what the course looked like in 21 was the most intimidating obstacle?
I would love to give Kunoichi a try. That would be so much fun! I love any new challenge or experience. If they offered me a spot I would be there in a heartbeat!
Sticking to stage 1, for me, the most intimidating obstacle was the flying shoot because that would have been, in my observation, the most difficult to clear because of my height. I would have loved to have made it that far and try it. Darn!!

Luci in Tokyo ©Luci Romberg

Tricia from Arkansas - Who did she want to meet but didn't? Other than Sasuke, what was the coolest thing about Japan? What music, if any, does she listen to when working out? Favorite music?
I was disappointed Akiyama was not there. I heard a rumor that he had a sick relative. (I have since sent Luci the Akiyama - Rise Up Blog) He is really the only one that I was not able to meet. Other than Sasuke my favorite thing about Japan are the people. Everyone is so nice and friendly! They are always willing to help and have such great charisma!
When working out I listen to upbeat, fun music. Today on my run I listened to Lady Gaga's Poker face, Soulja Boy's Kiss Me Through the Phone, Panic at the Disco's Nine in the Afternoon. Stuff like that :)
I LOVE to sing so my favorite music is anything I can sing along with. Whether it be country, pop, alternative, etc. I just love to sing anytime, anywhere.

Again a GAZILLION Thanks to Luci Romberg for taking the time and humoring this Sasuke blog chick :) It was a great experience and for those of you at home lemme explain how fun it was to talk to her! I hope you all have an opportunity to meet her! (Me included!) Hope more people like her grace the Sasuke Stage! Truly a classy person! Women Rock! Wait.. Steel!


blogdottom said...

Luci's awesome, I really hope she gets another chance in sasuke 23.

What are the flash videos in places down the page? They're just showing up as white boxes :(

Chaki said...

Wow. It was so cool to find out so much about Luci! Just LOVE all the photos of her, especially the personal stuff including her family. She is so adorable and such an amazingly athlete. M9 MUST revive Kunoichi for us to see Luci conquer it. She is so awesome. Thank you Luci for sharing. You've just gained yourself a bunch of new fans.

Rufus said...

Great interview, Arsenette. For real. Thank you for posting it.

I hope to see Luci more in the future. She is an amazing woman. REPRESENT!!!

Milner said...

Great profile! You should be a journalist.

Anonymous said...

Luci was great in answering the questions. We got to learn about her and see how great a person she is away from the Sasuke side of things. Certainly a classy competitor and she definatly deserves to go to Sasuke as long as she wants. She seems like a woman with so much potential on the course. On the Kunoichi side of things she needs to go there and show Japan she is the next Miyake.

Arsenette said...

Hey Tom sorry about the videos. They pop up after a while.. blame the G4 server.. LOL (I'll add that to the list of complaints about the network :p ). They seem to pop up on it's own and sometimes just go blank because it feels like it.. I should probably edit the link to show the pages the videos are on so if they don't load for someone they can see it from their site.

I agree chaki they should revive Kunoichi! (people.. email Monster 9 LOL). And yes I agree about the pics. She has a great selection I was able to go through!

Hey Michael! Yay! (P.S. Love your avatar :) ). LOL I'm not good to be a journalist. I only do well in articles I enjoy the subject.. the rest I'd procrastinate forever.. :p

shopper-mania said...

This was super super interesting! Thank you!