All told, on the American Ninja Warrior Los Angeles Qualifiers, 27 Ninjas fell on the difficult new fifth obstacle; the Doorknob Drop. The obstacle was the tipping point for the night. To crack the top 30, you needed to at least reach that obstacle and have a fast enough time.
We talked to the four female Ninjas who reached that point. All will return for the City Finals. We wanted to find out how they were feeling about the season, that dang obstacle, and how they stay focused on stressful competition nights.
Quotes have been lighted edited for length and clarity.
“In my mind, I want to beat myself. Last year I got to that (fifth) obstacle. So my goal was to get past that obstacle, regardless of who had done what before. My goal was to beat that fifth obstacle. As excited and grateful as I am to still move on and stuff. Part of me was still a little bit frustrated at myself but I’m still excited to give it another shot (in the City Finals).
I actually felt great grip-wise (on Doorknob Drop). My forearms were fine. It was kind of like the pulling sense in my biceps. So I shook it out a little bit so I could get that one last grab. I could have grabbed a little bit differently. I was happy just to get a hand on that last handle. If I had switched my grip to the other side it might have been a little more secure for the drop. That impact was a little bit harder than what I was bracing myself for and I ended up going down again.”
“The course was really hard. A lot of people fell in certain spots. Of course, it kind of gets in your head. But I try to stay focused. I know how I train and I know what I’m capable of.
I was feeling pretty good (on Doorknob Drop). Once I got past the red line where they’re supposed to drop it, I was waiting for them to drop it and I was like ‘Oh no, I have to grab that third one.’ I kind of lost my momentum. Tried to swing to get it and I just didn’t get my hips in the swing that I wanted to get that kip to get up there. So I missed my first grip. I tried it again and I just slipped. I was feeling good until then. Just a technical mistake.
It feels amazing (returning to the City Finals). I’ve been on the show, this is my fifth season. I did really good my first season. Went to Vegas and stuff and was top female, which was awesome. But I haven’t had that feeling since. And it’s frustrating. You train and you know what you’re capable of. And you get taken out by stupid things. It’s been a long time coming. It felt really good.”
“Now that I’ve done this a whole year, I feel like a lot of this is mental. To mentally prepare for a competition and be right there and not let your nerves overtake you is so much. I don’t know if because it’s my second season I feel like I have more pressure. Last year I felt like I didn’t have any pressure since nobody knew who I was. Now everybody does. I want to compete at that top level.
I have to say ‘I’m not at a competition. I’m literally training.’ I have to block everything out around me and mentally say I’m not at a competition. I’m just going to do this as if I’m training. And praying before I run. Just getting that time with God and saying, ‘God, help me through this because I need you. I need you all the time, but especially in this moment.’ That helps me prepare for the course.”
“I was feeling confident about the course. Definitely nervous watching a lot of people go down on the Doorknob Drop. Very few finishers by the time I went up on the course. But I felt like each obstacle was pretty doable.
I felt good on the first half of the Doorknobs. Going up, and then the first drop felt okay. It definitely jolted me a little bit. Then when I transferred to the second one and started my traverse up, that’s when I started to feel the fatigue and the pump in my forearms. So when I was going to reach for the very last Doorknob, I did a swing to go and grab it and my hand was just so exhausted that it didn’t hold on to it. Down I went! I was pumped out.
(Moving on) feels amazing. Last year was my first year on Ninja Warrior, my rookie year, and I went out way earlier than I wanted to. I was pretty disappointed, so the feeling I have this year competing in the finals is so much better. So much more fun!”