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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Anastase Ragivaru - The Wreath Man!

Anastase Ragivaru ラギヴァル・アナスターズ - Wreath Man!

Title Meaning:

Thanks to all of you who supported me earlier this year, I was able to see Sasuke 31 as it was taping live in Japan.  There I witnessed history as the fourth ever winner was crowned in Sasuke. Also memorable was a rare breakout performance from a complete newbie to Sasuke in a man affectionately dubbed as "Wreath Man" by the community who watched Sasuke online as a group.  It was a magical moment proving that someone who is athletic but has zero knowledge of this show can still do well in Sasuke.  It's an underdog's dream! That feat has not been done in quite a number of years. So for a man wearing nothing but what seemed to be a loincloth, a wreath on his head and dancing on the start line, it seemed extremely improbable that we would see him do well, let alone end up in the Third Stage when other champions fell.

During the interview on Day 2 of Sasuke 31 ©Arsenette


Sasuke is now taped over a 2 day period splitting the the  First and Second stages on Day 1 and everything else on the other.  I was at Midoriyama a few hours before official taping of the Third Stage for other reasons and a unique opportunity arose out of thin air.  This was Sunday, May 24, 2015.  I was able to actually talk to Anastase, his (future) in-laws and even to TBS all in a unique interview setting that I was not prepared for! LOL  It was an awesome memory of Sasuke meeting a very friendly and warm human being.  A man that even 24 hours before we could have never thought we'd want to know more up close and personal. It took me a long time to sit down and fully write this out because it was such a unique experience that I wanted to put my heart and soul in trying to capture that moment and share it with all my readers. I apologize for taking so long to finally write this one out.

 Anastase and Jin before the interview ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Background information on circumstances:

Before I start to recall the interview details, I have to go further in detail on how it all happened.  That in and of itself is a story and an integral part of his own Sasuke story.  I was at Sasuke 31 along with a few of my friends who were all there to support our friend Jin who was competing that day.  Jin was running in the mid 70's so after running around all Midoriyama being the absolute tourist taking pictures of other competitors and taking selfies with Tada and Morimoto, we finally made our way back to the stands to get into position.

Anastase Ragivaru ラギヴァル・アナスターズ - FIRST STAGE CLEAR!!!
That's tattooed on him btw not painted like Asa's

Part of the issue with the grandstand situation is that despite there being an additional set added to this particular tournament, there was still only one grandstand for the support/family/friends of the competitors.  Because there are 100 competitors, each having a minimum of 4-6+ per person cheering them on, the staff rotated the people in the grand stand section to correspond with those who were running.  I was allowed to return to the grandstand around the 60's (just as they reset for the ladies, children and old people) and stay on because our guy was running in the 70's.  So, I was front and center for the spectacle that was going to happen.  We happen to be lucky to witness Anastase's debut at #72!

Anastase touring with a dance company in France ©Anastase Ragivaru

Background information on his run:

After his historic run in the First Stage, everyone was stunned he actually passed. Part of the problem was that he technically should have been disqualified for his stunning jump of the Rolling Hill, however they couldn't communicate with him!  HE ONLY SPOKE FRENCH.  So I found out later that at first they wanted to flag him down and tell him he dq'ed.. but they couldn't find a way to communicate that.  So, they let him run because in all honesty, they thought he'd fail.  Surely some man wearing a loincloth and a wreath on his head wouldn't pass the course.. right?  So with each passing obstacle, the staff freaked out.  So when the red button was hit and he was standing there celebrating the fastest clear time in the entire tournament.. the staff just decided that it would be an absolute (richard) move to DQ him then especially since he didn't know he couldn't do that jump.  To be fair, he was never told that he couldn't jump off the top and as was done previous times (i.e. Levi being one of the more famous reruns of the First Stage - the no-hands rule on the Dome Steps from Sasuke 25) they immediately told everyone else "your foot has to touch the top roller before you jump" after Anastase's run.  Of course we all know what happened after that with a couple of All-Stars...

During the interview on Day 2 of Sasuke 31 ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Language support!:

So later that evening when the Second Stage was being set up, we all took our seats on the brand new Grandstand section they set up for this tournament.  A few minutes later, this lady (presumably TBS - definitely production staff) comes to the grandstand and asks for everyone's attention.  She pauses for a moment and then asks in Japanese "Does anyone speak French that can help us?".. without missing a beat, my friend Cathi (who was there as a Nagano invite) puts her hand up and responds in Japanese that she speaks French.  I couldn't stop laughing at the irony of the situation (too much backstory to go into that..).  So she gets up and goes to where the competitors are being told the rules of the Second Stage.  No way in hell are they going to have an incident now.. they were LUCKY that Cathi was in the audience to bail them out.  She returns later to let us know that she was told to communicate to Anastase about making sure he hit all of the Salmon Ladder Rungs and to lift the walls. I believe there was a little more to that but I honestly forgot with the passage of time.  Either way, we all know that again Anastase surpassed expectations and ended up clearing the Second Stage.  This time without incident.

Perry, Cathi, Jin, me, Anastase, and Minoru and Sachie Watada ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Day of the interview:

Fast forward to the following evening, it's about 7 PM by this point and I'm done with a couple meetings I had already set up before I even left the States.  In comes Anastase at what was the food court the day before, with a Japanese couple whom I later found out were his (future) In-Laws.  He immediately runs to Cathi and gives her a huge hug and thanks her for her help the night before.  He was relieved because someone can communicate with him for that day as well!  So he goes to meet everyone else who are slowly trickling in.  We aren't supposed to start for more than an hour (it turned out to be closer to 8:30 PM by the time everything was organized with the grandstand and registration).  Cathi leans over and asks me if I wanted an interview with him to kill time and she also was curious about him.  I jumped at the chance!  I was just so grateful to even get something like this. I didn't want to abuse her just because she is bilingual (working on being multilingual with Japanese). I was just so happy she volunteered.  So, here we are with an interview that I wasn't even expecting to do, at Midoriyama with a brand new star of Sasuke JUST before his run in Sasuke's Third Stage!  With us was my husband Don who was kind enough to take a LOT of photos with both my phone and Jin's DSLR, Dr. Cathleen Jones (my friend Cathi), Kung-Cheen Howng 洪 恭芹 (whom we all affectionately call Jin), his (future) In-Laws Minoru Watada 和多田稔 and Sachie Watada 和多田幸恵 and our friend Perry (affectionately known as the Dutch Tornado.. more on that in other blogs) Oosterlee from the Netherlands.

Cathi translating into French to Anastase while Jin watches and Sakurai takes notes ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Opportunity arose:

I admit I wasn't prepared for this since we decided this literally within minutes, so I had to start thinking of stuff on the fly.  I was tired from the day before and that was before I knew something was wrong with my foot.  I would ask a question, Cathi would translate that into French, Anastase would answer in French then she would translate that back into English. I took that opportunity to think of the next question and gauge how the interview was going to decide what to ask next. I was LUCKY I thought of bringing a digital recorder with me because OMG did I need it.  My brain was fried and my written notes I swear look like chicken stratch now....  The funny part ended up being later when TBS realized what it was I was doing and came to hijack my interview.  More on that later. Anyway with that backstory set up, let's dive into the details!

Anastase on Tour in France ©Anastase Ragivaru

Background on Anastase:

Anastase Ragivaru is a 24 year old man known to come recently from Tahiti (which is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia). He was born on April 11, 1991 in Kauehi, which is an atoll in the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia who's population is only about 250.  As of this interview, he is engaged to be married to a Japan native but no date was currently set for the wedding. Tradition dictates for him that the Japanese parents decide on the date for their daughter to marry him.

I'm sure TBS is totally kicking themselves for not approving Sasuke Park this year... LOL

How did you learn about the show?:

He learned about the show last year from his fiancée who is Japanese. He's loves competition and absolutely loves sports.  He had never seen the show before but was introduced by his fiancée to Sasuke Park when it was up for a month and a half in Toyosu, Tokyo, Japan. Sasuke has never aired in Tahiti and he was only a recent transplant in Japan so he was not aware of the show until last year. Even then, he had not seen the television show as Sasuke does not have reruns in Japan.  So to put it into perspective, while we were sitting there at Midoriyama, waiting for the Third Stage to be set up so he can compete in it, he had NEVER SEEN THE SHOW... His only frame of reference was a summer obstacle course park set up that was only up for 6 weeks...

Anyway, his knowledge of the show CAME from going to Sasuke Park with his girlfriend last year when he moved to Japan from Tahiti.

For what he was able to see in Sasuke Park in Toyosu, he found it very interesting/amusing/fun and went often to play on the obstacles while it was still open.  He went a couple of times while he was in Japan for the month of July (so in essence about 2 weeks). He didn't actually complete the course because he had trouble with the Cliffhanger. He had never seen an obstacle like that before in his life and lacked the grip strength to hang on to the thin ledge.

Anastase reacting to Sakurai (TBS) with Jin interpreting from Japanese ©Kung-Cheen Howng

TBS hijacks the interview (LOL):

So now this is where things get complicated.  Remember that we are all sitting here near the area that was the food court/merchandise stand chilling out talking to each other just so we can get to know each other.  We were all waiting for the Third Stage to be set up for competition.  TBS at this point is aware of us talking to him and realizes that he may be able to finally get some information from Anastase for their broadcast (and specifically for their 3rd Stage announcing).  Jin, who was also there just to listen to the whole thing is now shanghaied into work.  Now the order goes Mr. Sakurai from TBS in Japanese, Jin translates that into English, Cathi translates that into French.. Anastase answers in French, Cathi into English and then Jin into Japanese.  For anyone listening and after a while with the competitors all coming in to also run the Third Stage.. this was HILARIOUS.  Poor Cathi and Jin would get brain fried halfway through where Jin is speaking Japanese to Cathi and Cathi speaking French to Jin!!!!!!! LOL  I got a look when I said something in Spanish. ♥ Perry chimed in wishing to add some Dutch!  Cathi a few times spoke in Frapanise!

Anastase (bottom left) posing with his Team Tahiti in 2010

What was your home life like?:

So the questions that TBS asked were a little bit different than those I was going to ask but still interesting nonetheless.  It also gave me insight on what kind of stuff they wanted to give to their announcers to talk while the competitor is on the course.  These are the questions they asked and of course the subsequent answers.  They wanted to know what his home life was like (father/mother, etc.).  Anastase's father is a Doctor and his Mother is a housewife.  TBS wanted to know what type of childhood he had; whether he was one to play outside all the time or was he home a lot and played video games? Anastase was an extremely active child always playing sports.  His family was heavily into sports and thus was outside all the time.  He loves running, loves working out at the gym a lot, is an avid swimmer and has competed in paddle (canoe) and played Badminton in High School.

Gold Medals from the the 2011 Pacific Games

World Champion in Canoeing?

He won a Team Gold medals (Outrigger Canoeing) at the 2011 Pacific Games in Nouméa, New Caledonia that was held on August 29–September 3, 2011.  His team won two Gold medals in V6 1500 meters and again V12 500 meters.  He himself is a World Champion from the 2010 World Championships (Sorry couldn't find video for that).  For those interested in seeing what a race like this would look like - here is an example clip from the 2012 World Championships). That team was defending the title that Anastase's Team won a couple years before.

Anastase Ragivaru ラギヴァル・アナスターズ is a Polynesian Dance instructor

Polynesian Dance:

He also is extremely involved in competitive dancing and even teaches it to anyone interested in Japan.  The dance that he was doing at the start line in Sasuke is the the ʻōteʻa (usually written as otea) and it is a traditional dance from Tahiti. (more on that later)

Anastase showing his shirt explaining that he competed in this event ©Arsenette

More information about his homeland :

TBS also wanted to know where he was born.  Anastase was born in a very small island called Kauehi, which is an atoll in the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia who's population is only about 250 people.  They are best known for fishing and of course the Polynesian games (what they call Tuaro Ma’ohi).  (Description of the Games: Aside “va’a” (canoeing) and surfing, various Ma’ohi disciplines have traveled through the different periods and are still enjoyed by many people, especially during the Heiva festivities in July.  They are numerous and are often linked to activities of Polynesian people’s daily life – past and presents. The most well known are: javelin throwing, stone lifting, fruit carrier race, the copra contest, coconut tree climbing, etc. These disciplines require excellent physical conditions but also a certain controlled strategy.)

Anastase dressed for the 2014 Tahiti Ora Heiva ©Anastase Ragivaru

What is the connection to Japan?

When did he come to Japan?  He met his fiancée through Tahitian Dance and then moved to Japan to be with her.  He was a teacher of that particular dance and that's how they were connected.  His fiancée is also a competitive dancer.  At this point Sakurai was introduced to his fiancée's parents - Mr. and Mrs. Watada.  They spoke briefly about the connection to Japan through their daughter and his dance instruction (in fact she was out of the country performing which is why she was unable to go to Sasuke to cheer him on).  They became a competition couple as well and won the 2014 Tahiti Ora Heiva event together.  (A brief synopsis of what goes behind the planning for this event can be found here).

Anastase being introduced to the crowd in Sasuke 31

What was that dance at the start line?

They were very interested in finding out the meaning of the dance he did the day before on Sasuke's First Stage.  They were asking if it was part of a fighting/war (I assume like haka) or fertility dances (like in Japan), etc.  Anastase answered that in the beginning it was a specifically for celebrations in Tahitian society.  This type of dance though is now extremely rare in modern times and is now only used for tourism and competition.

Anastase photobombing Yuusuke Morimoto at a Festival - August, 2015 ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Japanese society:

TBS switched gears and asked what type of food he loves from Japan.  Anastase emphatically said SUSHI!  All kinds!  They asked if there were anything about Japan's culture that he likes.. celebrities, events, etc.  He said he was extremely fascinated by Japanese Sumo.  His mother in law interjects saying that he watches it on Television all the time!

Sakurai from TBS taking notes during the interview ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Japan resident?

He was asked how long has he been in Japan overall.  Last year Anastase was here for a month (July, 2014 - which incidentally was the same month that Sasuke Park opened) and then again in February of this year but this time it was to stay.  He is now permanently residing in Japan. And by inference he is already living with his In-Laws.

During the interview ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Family life as a child:

Armed with a lot of background information for the TBS announcer getting ready to call the Third Stage, Sakurai bows out and I go back to finishing my interview.  I went back to asking about his family structure and if he had any siblings.  YES!  4 brothers and 5 sisters!  He is on the younger side of the bunch being the 8th child born (of 9).  He grew up in a very active and competitive environment where the family enjoyed playing a variety of sports.

Anastase during the Auditions - Nico Nico broadcast

How did you get into the Sasuke tournament?

I asked how he got on the show (remember this is a month before Navi aired so we had no clue) and he confirmed he went through the application process. He was complaining how difficult the online application itself was as it was extremely detailed and of course all written in Japanese.

 Anastase wearing red on the far left of Tokyo's Group 2

Push up portion of the Audition:

Jin (also having gone through that audition process a couple of times - Sasuke 28 and again in Sasuke 30) asked how many push ups he managed to do. Anastase managed 80 push ups in the Tokyo audition.  They both chuckled about the process. Jin felt much better knowing he did 100 push ups in the auditions. Jin  joked that he could go home feeling good about one thing (since he was eliminated the night before in Stage 2).

Anastase reading a prepared statement for his 30 second appeal.

Audition Interview:

Anastase is still learning Japanese so he didn't speak or write Japanese for the application process.  It also explains why TBS had little personal/background information to talk about for the Third Stage.  Sakurai came back double checking that Cathi was available for the Third Stage run-through to make sure he was given translated information on the rules of the course.

More interview photos ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Sasuke 31's Third Stage:

I changed gears and asked what he was most excited for today (meaning the Third Stage he was about to run).  He said he wasn't nervous and totally relaxed.  Jin explained how rare it was for a First Timer to be in the Third Stage of the event (going back at least 10 years - possibly more..). He also was the first newbie to get the Fastest Time on the First Stage.  Jin wanted to make sure he know that Jin thought he was a God. ♥

Jin, Mr. Sakurai and Cathi ©Arsenette

Enjoying the ride:

How was enjoying Sasuke so far?   He intended to go and have fun.  His goal obviously was to win (as he's very competitive), however he had no actual expectations so even if he failed in the Third Stage his goal was to go as far as he could and enjoy the ride.  So far it's been wonderful for him and everyone has been very welcoming.  Jin made the connection that the first time he was in Sasuke 30 he had the same experience (relaxed, having fun) and applauded him for taking the opportunity to enjoy the moment. He warned to keep that since this time he wasn't having fun and failed because of it.  He was so happy to see Anastase so eager to embrace the Sasuke spirit that he took it upon himself to avail himself to help him in any way he could.

Anastase with the group in Gunma Prefecture ©Kung-Cheen Howng

A promise kept:

And with that Jin exchanged information with him to take him to the backyard courses to make sure he is prepared for next year.  As you can tell, he took him up on his offer many MANY times.  As of this blog he's been to just about every major training session and gathering of Sasuke competitors!  Each time his Japanese has greatly improved!  His engaging personality and eagerness to learn has endeared him with all of the STQ'ers as he's now one of them!

Training session at Midoriyama ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Crazy Cliffhanger Training:

So we finish the interview and Jin remembers that in the midst of all of this, Anastase has NEVER SEEN THE SHOW.. which means.. he has NO idea how to tackle the jump on the Crazy Cliffhanger (as he hasn't even seen it yet..). For those who remember Sasuke Park, they only had a modified Ultimate Cliffhanger.  Jin wasn't going to make the mistake that TBS did (twice) in assuming that he wouldn't get to it so he took the time to show him what the obstacle looked like.

 Jin showing Anastase Sasuke 30's Crazy Cliffhanger ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Reviewing the footage:

Jin had his tablet with him and showed him Sasuke 30's Third Stage, specifically Tomohiro Kawaguchi's clear of the Crazy Cliffhanger. Out of the two Finalists that passed that year (since Ryo Matachi also cleared), Tomo was closer in size and body structure to Anastase so he could get a good gauge of how far to jump, how to hold your body, where to shift your weight, etc. etc.

 Tatsuya Tada 多田竜也 on the left joins in 

More help on the way!

By this point most of the major players were quietly streaming in one by one.  Former competitor and former Sasuke tester Tatsuya Tada 多田竜也 saw what was going on when he saw the video. He was also there the previous day to recognize who Anastase was.  Tada also helped to explain the body motion in better detail.

Screenshot of a video I took with my phone

I took a video with my phone that at one point I will upload (after I'm done some other things) so this will serve as a placeholder for that video when I finally get around to editing all the footage from my trip.

More Crazy Cliffhanger jump training ©Kung-Cheen Howng

So more international conversation as Jin communicates with Tada in Japanese and Anastase starts asking specific questions in French.  Tada explaining in detail as Anastase asks questions with Cathi translating the answers back to him.

We get the attention of a Cliffer specialist! ©Arsenette

Even long-time Rambling Rican readers may not immediately recognize the man on the right.  He is a current Sasuke 31 tester but better know to me as Tsuyoshi Matsuda 松田 剛 (#1 Cliffer).  He is surprised that a complete newbie has gotten to the Third Stage and offers his congratulations.

Breaking down mechanics ©Arsenette

So combining the techniques from Jin, Tada and now Matsua and answering questions Anastase had for everyone, they go back to watching the video in greater detail.  This was the last chance he had to see it before he went to compete.

Anastase Ragivaru ラギヴァル・アナスターズ and Yuuichi Okada 岡田祐一 at Gunma "Park" - July, 2015 ©Yuuichi Okada

Sasuke 31 journey:

Since the blog was getting long (and because I didn't ask at that time), I didn't include the full run through of his stages on this particular blog.  You can refer to the Sasuke 31 Spoilerific review where I show screenshots and discuss his runs in detail. TBS did not cut any of his runs.  Stage 1 - Stage 2 and Stage 3 (which took place after this interview).

Jin was correct in thinking he'd at least get to this obstacle

Third Stage Crazy Cliffhanger:

He did confide later to Jin that he knew he wouldn't get far on the Crazy Cliffhanger.  His goal was to attempt the jump and got ahead of himself when he realized he was losing grip.  Unlike other obstacles, that is such a specific obstacle that it has to be trained for. He had issues in Sasuke Park last year just on the ledges and he was proud to have gone as far as he did given he didn't have that specific finger training to hang on to a 3 cm ledge.

 Proud Mama Sachie Watada showing me a video of her daughter dancing with Anastase from her Tablet ©Arsenette
Questions from the community:

After the broadcast in July, I got another message from Cathi.  I kept relaying what was going on with the community and telling her about his new nickname and she would relay it back to him.  Finally she asked if I wanted to come up with questions from the community to ask him!  She would translate the questions into French then translate the answers back into English so I can blog them! I put a thread up in SMF and fielded question through email and Twitter. I got the answers back from Cathi with the funniest screenshot.  
"Anastase’s reaction when he saw all the questions - Waohhh!!!"

Kyle Foley, 16, Ohio, USA
Q: Could you just describe your whole road to and at Sasuke? As in, could you tell us in full about how you found out about it and made the show?

A: First of all, I didn’t know SASUKE at all. I learned about it from friends of my fiancée. And then last year, they had a SASUKE park which I tried and really liked. So the next year I applied.  At the beginning I was stressed, but as soon as I started, my goal was to finish!

Anastase (left) celebrating Tada's birthday! ©Tatsuya Tada

Sasukeguy, 14, Colorado, USA
Q: What’s the thought process you had when you made it to stage three on your first run while so many veterans failed? Also are you going to compete in SASUKE 32?
A: The only thought I had was to finish. For the next year I hope to do the course again.

Sasuke stars enjoy a local Festival in Gunma ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Kevin, 21, Southern California, USA
Q: Did you think you were going to make it as far as you did in the course? How did it feel to make it all the way to the 3rd Stage in your first (and hopefully not the last) appearance on Sasuke?
A: No, I never thought I would make it to the third stage. To the second, yes! I was happy for sure, even though I fell on the 3rd stage, for me it was quite a new experience.

Trying to take a selfie with a DSLR! ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Bill, 22, Pennsylvania, USA
Q: Have you attempted any athletic events in the past that are similar to SASUKE? What exercises and sports do you think aided you in your success at SASUKE 31?
A: No, not at all, but because I was the world champion in canoeing (VA`A), the training is practically identical. (Exercises) The training for VA`A.

Anastase at a Festival in August, 2015 ©Kung-Cheen Howng

SasukeDoctor, 15, Connecticut, USA
Q: If you could get a retry, do you think you could beat the cliffhanger? Will you be at Sasuke 32? Favorite obstacle?
A:  No because I never before did the cliffhanger. But I will do it again next year maybe.

Robert, 24, Orlando, FL, USA
Q: What was your athletic background besides dancing? Are you okay with the nickname Wreath Man? (whatever nickname Wreathman wants, Wreathman gets) Lastly, will you bring a bigger wreath to Sasuke 32 if given the opportunity to compete again?
A:  I did not do any special training for Sasuke, just my usual training: bike, running, working out. Yes, I like the nickname Wreathman!  Ha ha ha Maybe!

Time to compare forearms! ©Kung-Cheen Howng

James Park, 14, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Q:  If you were to seen the whole show of SASUKE 31, what was your favorite moment at that tournament? On your fluff piece in the 2nd stage, it was shown you visited Sasuke Park. Was it a great experience for you, and did it inspired you to do the trials?
A: My favorite moment was the first stage. SASUKE Park was my first experience before SASUKE 31 and it really inspired me.

I've got a bigger one!! ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Cliffhanger, 18, Czech Republic
Q: What will you do to pass the cliffhanger?
A: One single thought TRAINING, no special secret.

Anastase setting the First Stage record in Sasuke 31

Philip Scott, 18, Michigan, USA
Q: Your speed run through the 1st Stage (and your performance as a whole) was awesome! My question is, were you trying to go as fast as you could, or were you just worried about not clearing in time?
A:  I wasn’t thinking at all about trying to run really fast, I just was concerned about the timer.

Anastase with the group in Gunma Prefecture ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Collin Schaffer, 22, Maryland, USA
Q: You went into Sasuke 31 with limited knowledge of the course, do you plan to research the course more and train more specifically for some of the obstacles? And will you be returning for Sasuke 32?
A: Not at all, I have never done a course like this. But I looked at YouTube with my friends. For SASUKE 32 I am crossing my fingers..

On tour in France! ©Anastase Ragivaru

Claire, 18, Northern Ireland
Q: Given that you went into Sasuke 31 with little/no knowledge of the obstacles, were there any that you found to be particularly intimidating or were particularly excited by when you first saw their designs and the tester runs?
A:  I was both timid and excited before the start, but as soon as I started I had the thought that I could finish.

Tahiti's Flower - Tiaré ©fragrantica

William Marchese, 26, Long Island, NY, USA
Q: When you finished stage one you pointed to the tattoo on your chest and then up to the sky. Would you mind sharing the significance of the tattoo?
A:  My tattoo is the flower of Tahiti. And why did I point to the sky, I was thinking of my family and my native land French Polynesia.

Anastase pointing to his Tattoo of the Tiaré

Cameron Scheumann, 14, Indiana, USA
Q: If you had to predict where you would reach on the course, what would you have predicted?
A: Just to the end of the stage.

Anastase goofing around in Gunma ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Damon, 19, South Africa
Q: Which obstacle did you enjoy tackling the most .. ?
A: The obstacle I really battled against was the cliffhanger because it was the most difficult for me. It’s true that without training, it’s difficult. The obstacle I liked the most was the swimming.

Anastase (center) celebrating Tada's birthday! ©Tatsuya Tada

Dominic Martin, 19, Nottingham, England
Q: Which obstacle did you find a lot harder in person than compared to watching it on TV?
A: It was the cliffhanger (by the way, he had never seen Sasuke on TV before participating in Sasuke 31)

Awesome time waiting for Third Stage setup ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Matthew Roxburgh, 18, New York, USA
Q:  How nervous were you before and during your run of the course? Did nerves affect your run on any of the stages of the course? Did you feel a sense of adrenaline that boosted your performance?
A: A little nervous before my run. No, not at all. Yes!

He now trains at his (future) in-laws home ledges

Nick, 18, Alaska, USA
Q: How long did you stay for the tournament after you failed?
A: My driver had to work the next morning so I left just before the final stage!

Morimoto and Wreathman recognized in Gunma! ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Seif, 15, North Carolina, USA
Q: What was the reason and inspiration for you to apply and run for Sasuke? # wreathman
A:  I didn’t have a particular reason or inspiration. I just wanted to try SASUKE!

Anastase getting cheers for clearing the Second Stage

Psycho, 17, Athens, Greece
Q:  I've watched your first stage run again and again and I'm wandering this: Did you use an "all or nothing" approach on that run or it was just your ability to be naturally fast physically and mentally?
A:  I just ran my course – that’s all.

Anastase in Gunma ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Alex, 21, Pennsylvania, USA
Q: How much of a disadvantage do you think you were at having never seen the show before? Did that factor in to your speedy approach to the First Stage? Now that you're more familiar with the show, do you think you could go further in a second attempt?
A: I thought I would have a large disadvantage after having watched the video because I didn’t know SASUKE at all.  After seeing the participants before me do the course, I told myself that I could at least finish.  No, not at all, but maybe the next year.

 Anastase again photobombing Morimoto showing his fun personality! ©Kung-Cheen Howng


The interview itself was about 45 minutes long and I still can't believe he took that time before competing in the Third Stage!  I mean when I think of it now.. it's mind-boggling that he was so relaxed to do an interview in multiple languages!  Since the interview he's spent a lot of time with Jin and has spoken much of his new-found love for Sasuke.  He really enjoys the camaraderie with the other Sasuke stars and wannabees.  He's extremely friendly and always eager to learn.  I really hope we get a chance to see him again in Sasuke 32.  I'm curious how all of this training will do.  Thanks so much to Cathi for volunteering her time and making this interview (and subsequent questions) possible!  It's incredible to have learned more about him and without her help it would have been impossible.  Thanks to Jin for helping out TBS when they were in a pinch and helping that exchange of information to be seamless.  Both were extremely generous with their time and were a huge help to not only me but to the community who were eager to learn more about him.  And finally, THANK YOU Anastase for taking time to talk to some random blogger on a taping of a show you were competing in!  The tournament needs more people like you. ♥

1 comment:

Unknown said...

LOL at Tada dabbing while showing Anastase the crazy cliffhanger jump