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Neil Craver returned with a more measured approach to the obstacles

He missed season nine due to a shoulder surgery.

Neil Craver knows how to stand out in a crowd. He’s made a name for himself on American Ninja Warrior by becoming “Crazy Craver.” With flashy outfits and flaming obstacles, he’s a hard one to miss.

Neil’s history on the course backs up the big-time persona. In season six, he made it to the City Finals in Miami, ending his run on the Salmon Ladder. Seasons seven and eight saw him on Stage Two of the National Finals. Neil had to step back during season nine for a shoulder surgery, but he returned for season 10 ready to go.

He completed the Miami Qualifying course and had a strong showing on the City Finals course. His run to the Crazy Clocks left him in the tenth position and heading back to the National Finals.

While Neil is known for his “crazy” attitude, we had a different experience with him when we spoke before his run. Neil was diligently focused and aware that he’d been away from the course for a year. Here’s what he had to say.

“The year off from the shoulder surgery, it’s a weird feeling. I feel like I never left, but I also have a feeling that I’ve put all this time, this surgery, this effort to ultimately get further than I was. There’s some nerves this year. Definitely.

I feel like maybe it’s not all fun and games now. I have this seriousness that I’m trying to release myself from and just be alright with what’s going to happen. Even if I spent a year rehabbing my shoulder and I fall on the first obstacle. I think I have to be okay with that. It’s a bumpy path no matter what road you take.”

“I feel like nothing happens without the mind. You could conjure that it’s all mental. It’s the discipline that you have to have mentally to be able to go anywhere on the course. You have to be able to calm your nerves and be able to perform at that very moment.

I’ve been doing a lot of meditation. My yoga practice. That allows you to become aware of your breath. Control your breathing. Control your heart rate.”

“Obviously I have expectations. I’m going to go to Vegas. I feel I have all the abilities. The time I’ve spent on the course, which some people don’t have. That feeling of not knowing what the course is going to feel like for a new-comer would be really detrimental.

But I feel like I have a calmness. I’ll be able to perform with a little more ease than someone who hasn’t been on the course as much.

That’s my new hashtag, #CarefulCraver.”

Careful Craver will be taking his new outlook all the way to Las Vegas.