'Wild Ninja': Woodbury girl competes in American Ninja Warrior Junior
When competing as a contestant on a TV show, it helps to stand out. Contestants will often craft a persona. When Woodbury native Bella Palmer, 9, an avid Minnesota Wild fan, was chosen to compete in the first season of American Ninja Warrior Junior, she made a shirt that showcased her competition persona: "Wild Ninja."
The show is a version of the popular obstacle course competition American Ninja Warrior, but for kids 9-14 years old. Bella competed against 64 kids in the 9-10 age bracket during the show's filming this past summer.
She has been involved in the growing sport for almost a year, taking first place in her last five competitions, beating out both girls and boys.
When describing her reaction to finding out she would be competing on American Ninja Warrior Junior, Bella was nonchalant.
"I was just like, 'OK, cool,'" she said.
She trains at Conquer Ninja Warrior in Woodbury, which opened in July 2016. Since then, a series of adult athletes have emerged from the gym and competed on the original version of the show.
The obstacles in the junior version are the same, just slightly scaled down to accommodate younger participants.
Bella's favorite obstacles include the "Salmon Ladder," the "Warped Wall" and "Laches," a bar-to-bar obstacle. When doing the "Salmon Ladder," an athlete must grip a bar resting on two parallel rungs with both hands while hanging and move the bar up each set of rungs without misplacing it or falling. It is especially difficult because it requires a lot of upper body strength.
That didn't stop Bella.
"I said, 'No kids do it at your age,'" her mom, Lindsey Palmer, said. "That was what she needed."
American Ninja Warrior Junior will premiere at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13 on the Universal Kids network.