It was all going great until the Jumping Spider.
After making it through the qualifiers to the Las Vegas nationals of NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” San Luis Obispo firefighter Thomas Kofron, 31, fell during the first round of finals on Monday night — losing out on his chance to win $1 million.
Kofron made it through the first three obstacles with his family and friends looking on, all of them wearing plastic red firefighter helmets.
He made it through the Double Dipper, a sliding, swoop-shaped obstacle that took out several of the top contenders, even breaking one veteran competitor’s ankle.
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But then came the Jumping Spider. Kofron had to bounce from a trampoline to a space between two walls, and spider-crawl between them, suspended above a pool of water.
Spoiler: He didn’t make it.
“I didn’t get deep enough into the wall,” a drenched Kofron said after the course.
Kofron, a Ventura native who graduated from Cal Poly in 2009, has worked for Cal Fire for about seven years.
Kofron previously told The Tribune that his firefighter training gives him an edge on his fellow “American Ninja Warrior” athletes. He also credited one of his favorite hobbies, rock climbing, with helping him through the show’s challenging courses.
Unfortunately, all that experience wasn’t enough to prepare him for the Jumping Spider, Kofron said Tuesday.
“I have never tried an obstacle like that (before) and did not know what to expect,” he said. “That trampoline didn’t bounce like I was expecting it to. I had a good feeling (that) if I stuck the jump I would be home free in the back half of the course.”
Kofron said he’s looking forward to tackling the Jumping Spider again next year, when he tries out for a new season of “American Ninja Warrior.”
The firefighter said he enjoyed his time on the show. “It was a great experience,” he said. “I went in with no expectations as far as success, but I had a lot of fun competing and can’t ask for anything more.”
In all, 12 competitors completed round one of the “American Ninja Warrior” finals on Monday night. Next week, the second group of finalists will attempt round one. All who make it through will move on to the second, final round, for a chance to win the grand prize.
Tribune entertainment editor Sarah Linn contributed to this story.
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