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American Ninja Warrior: USA vs the World recap 2017

Jessie Graff and Drew Drechsel put up mind-blowing runs.

David Becker/NBC

After a long wait, American Ninja Warrior: USA vs the World 2017 finally premiered. And yeah, it was worth the wait. The three hour episode was full of history making runs, shocking falls and nail-biting lead changes.

Let’s get into it.

The Teams

Team USA

  • Jake Murray
  • Josh Levin
  • Daniel Gil
  • Drew Drechsel
  • Brian Arnold
  • Jessie Graff

Team Latin America

  • Karl Fow
  • David Saikin
  • Santiago de Alba
  • Diego Gonzalez
  • Danee Marmolejo
  • Wid Eriksen

Team Europe

  • Stefano Ghisolfi
  • Sean McColl
  • Bjarke Tonnesen
  • Alexander Mars
  • Owen McKenzie
  • Tim Shieff

You can refresh yourself on all the National Finals obstacles here.

Here’s how the scoring broke down:

There were three heats on each stage.

  • Each heat win on stage one was worth one point.
  • Each heat win on stage two was worth two points.
  • Each heat win on stage three was worth three point.

If there was a tie, the two teams would race side by side up the incredible climb of stage four.

Stage One


  • Team USA: Daniel Gil

He sailed through the course and hit the buzzer at 1:47.58. This beat his Stage One completion time by 17 seconds.

  • Team Europe: Bjarke Tonnesen

This slot was supposed to go to Tim Shieff who holds the fastest time ever on Stage One. However, Tim was limping and revealed he had a knee injury. He would be taking a seat for the duration of the competition.

Bjarke took to the course in his place. But it was a short run when he fell on Snake Run.

  • Team Latin America: Wid Eriksen

Wid was tangled on Propeller Bar, but survived. It would be the Jumping Spider that would end his run.

  • Heat winner: Team USA - 1 point


  • Team Europe: Owen McKenzie

Owen missed the landing on Sonic Curve twice, which cost him time. It then took him four tries to complete the Warped Wall. But in true Ninja spirit, he never gave up. He completed the course with a time of 2:38.66.

  • Team Latin America: Karl Fow

Before his run, we learned the powerful story behind Karl’s journey to the show. Unfortunately we didn’t get much time with him. He went out on the Propeller Bar.

  • Team USA: Jake Murray

Jake had the fastest Stage One time in season eight. On this run, he had a miraculous save on the Jumping Spider. When he completed the course with a time of 1:28.43, he snagged the point for USA.

  • Heat winner: Team USA - 1 point


  • Team Europe: Alexander Mars

Alexander had a repeat of his last performance on USA vs the World. He went out on the Jumping Spider.

  • Team USA: Jessie Graff

Anticipation and expectations were high for her return to the National Finals course. There was a collective gasp of shock when she went out on the first obstacle.

  • Team Latin America: Danee Marmolejo

He earned the point when he completed the Jumping Spider. It was the first point for Latin America. He did fall on the Flying Squirrel while transitioning to the cargo net, but the result was the same.

It was even more impressive when we learned Danee had skinned his hand on the Propeller Bar rope and had continued on.

  • Heat winner: Team Latin America - 1 point

Stage Two


  • Team USA: Brian Arnold

Brian is always a powerhouse, so it was no surprise he made it far down the course. He ended up going out on the Double Wedge. Since he didn’t complete the obstacle, the other teams would need to make it to the Butterfly Wall with a better time than 1:47. 34 to take the point.

  • Team Latin America: Diego Gonzalez

Diego was unable to rival Brian’s performance. He fell from the Wave Runner.

  • Team Europe: Sean McColl

His time at the Butterfly Wall was slow enough that he had to beat the Double Wedge to take the points. But Sean was no stranger to the American Ninja Warrior course. He nailed it and went on to complete the course, earning two points for Europe.

  • Heat winner: Team Europe - 2 points

At this point, we learn Drew Drechsel has decided to forfeit his spot in Stage Two and send in Jessie Graff. He wanted to rest and be fresh for Stage three.


  • Team Latin America: Karl Fow

It was a quick start on Stage Two for this heat. Karl ended his run on the Giant Ring Swing.

  • Team USA: Daniel Gil

Daniel was one of only two people to beat the Double Wedge in regular competition, so there was an expectation he’d make it there again. He did, but couldn’t repeat his previous success. He went out on Double Wedge with a time of 2:19.43.

  • Team Europe: Stefano Ghisolfi

Stefano had never completed Stage Two during his two seasons on USA vs the World. But his third time was the charm. He completed the Double Wedge for the 2 points and then completed the course.

  • Heat winner: Team Europe - 2 points


  • Team Latin America: David Saikin

It was a quick appearance for David. He was out on the Giant Ring Swing.

  • Team Europe: Bjarke Tonnesen

Bjarke faired slightly better. He fell from the Down Up Salmon Ladder.

  • Team USA: Jessie Graff

Jessie had made it to Stage Two during the regular competition, having failed at the Wave Runner. This unexpected shot at redemption put the pressure squarely on her shoulders.

Jessie rose to the occasion and then some. She earned the points by completing the Salmon Ladder. She redeemed herself by beating the Wave Runner. Then she made history by becoming the first woman to complete Stage Two.

  • Heat winner: Team USA - 2 points

USA was now tied with Europe with four points each, while Latin American lagged with 1 point.

Stage Three

Heat One:

  • Team USA: Josh Levin

Josh beat the terrifying Ultimate Cliff Hanger, and the crowd started to boil over with excitement. He then beat the Hang Climb, making him the first to reach that point on the current version of Stage Three. He completed the stage to lock in a strong three points and solidify himself in the American Ninja Warrior lexicon.

  • Team Latin America: Santiago de Alba

Santiago was pacing ahead of Josh’s time, but fell from the Body Prop.

  • Team Europe: Alexander Mars

Alexander was also ahead of Josh’s pace after the Ultimate Cliffhanger. But he was unable to complete the Walking Bars.

  • Heat winner: Team USA - 3 points


  • Team Europe: Stefano Ghisolfi

Stefano put up a good fight, but he fell at the Ultimate Cliff Hanger.

  • Team Latin America: David Saikin

David was steady, but his time was slow enough time that he had to complete the Cliff Hanger to stay in the competition. He was unable to do that. This made Team Latin America mathematically unable to win the competition.

  • Team USA: Brian Arnold

Brian had been to Stage Three multiple times before. In fact, he was the first American to beat Stage Three during USA vs the World. This made it all the more shocking when he fell while dismounting from the Ultimate Cliff Hanger.

  • Heat winner: Team Europe - 3 points


We entered Stage Three with a tie between USA and Europe.

  • Team Latin America: Diego Gonzalez

If Diego won the heat, he could have forced a climb off between USA and Europe. He put up a great performance, making it all the way to the Walking Bar.

  • Team Europe: Sean McColl

Sean knew what was on the line and you could see it on his face. He fought so hard to complete the Body Prop, but was unable to. This left the door open Drew Drechsel.

  • Team USA: Drew Drechsel

There was NO doubt Drew wanted to prove himself on this course. He went farther than any one on Stage Three in the regular competition, but fell from the Hang Climb.

Drew dialed in and took the course wearing his head phones. He was smooth and steady down the course, even taking a moment to change the song he was listening to.

His methods paid off! He completed the course!

With that Team USA WON!

  • Heat winner: Team USA - 3 points

Team USA wins USA vs the World in a dramatic battle to the finish!