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Michael Johnson on the ‘ups and downs’ of his second season

We spoke with Michael the day before his Stage One run.

John Parra/NBC

Michael Johnson left an impression on the American Ninja Warrior audience during his debut. At the Daytona Qualifiers in season nine, Michael scaled the Warped Wall and yelled out, “I have ice in my veins.”

The phrase was a reflection of how Michael felt undisturbed by the obstacles and it was just a small taste of his big character and personality. In his submission video for that season, Michael shared the powerful story of his upbringing. Born in Brooklyn, his mother passed away when he just six. Michael and his father moved in with his grandmother and aunt. The two women acted as mother figures as he grew up, and taught him the meaning of the word “Greatness.” Michael has adopted that term as his personal mantra.

His freshman season ended on the Double Dipper at the National Finals. Back for season 10, Michael competed in Miami. During the Qualifiers, he peeled off the Slippery Summit just inches from the landing platform. In the City Finals, he placed sixth overall after making it to the Crazy Clocks. Back at the National Finals, he faced down the Double Dipper once more and once more, he fell on the obstacle.

Michael’s determination was unwavering as he prepared for his second year on Stage One. We spoke to him the day before his run to find out how he was feeling about his season.

Jason Koerner/NBC

How do you think your season has gone?

MJ: My season has been different. I planned it out and I’ve had some ups and downs, but I’m here now. It’s been wonderful.

The downs would be not hitting a buzzer for Qualifiers. I was this close and my fingers slipped on the last laché. But I happened to manage to make my way back to Vegas.

What was your most memorable moment from City Finals?

MJ: My most memorable moment from City Finals was coming down from interviews and asking ‘What place am I in right now?’ And they go, ‘First.’ Yes! I might be going to Vegas.

How does it feel to be back in Vegas again?

MJ: It’s always super surreal (to be in Vegas). Am I in Vegas? Nah. Am I doing Ninja stuff? Nah. Then the day comes and you’re like, ‘Oh my God,’ and start panicking. Right now I’m real cool, nonchalant and chill. But I know once I step foot on the course I’m going to freak out.

If you could go back and do one thing differently this season, what would it be?

MJ: It would definitely be better beta for the fifth obstacle (Slippery Summit). I shouldn’t have fallen there. But I did. It happens. I would definitely go back and re-do that so I could do that 18 foot wall and be up there with Ryan Stratis. But you live and you learn.

You can watch part of Michael’s Qualifying run at the 4:07 mark in this video.

Did you change up your training between the City Finals and National Finals?

MJ: Between City Finals and National Finals, it becomes more cardio based. I definitely don’t want to get timed out on the course. Farthest the fastest is the goal. Obviously completing it is, but that’s the back up. Trying to push pace the whole time.

You’ve got one night left before Stage One. How are you going to prepare?

MJ: I’m going to eat a bag of spinach, go over the course in my head, and just try not to over think it.

What do you expect from yourself tomorrow?

MJ: Hit a buzzer. Plain and simple. I plan to hit a buzzer. Nothing short of that. That’s all I want.

While things didn’t quite as he’d planned in Vegas, it looks like Michael still had an unforgettable experience. Hopefully he’ll carry his greatness into season 11.