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Stage Two’s ‘Deja Vu’ is the ANW Obstacle Design Challenge Winner

It was submitted by Ninja and Wingnuts creator, Kevin Carbone.

David Becker/NBC

Sorry we’ve had to keep this one under wraps for awhile, readers. But now that Stage One of the American Ninja Warrior National Finals is over, we can give you a little peak at one obstacle of Stage Two...

The obstacle in position two is called Deja Vu, and it’s your season 10 Obstacle Design Challenge winner!

The design was sent in during season nine by Kevin Carbone. That name sounds familiar for a reason. Kevin also submitted a design in season eight. It was a little thing called the Wingnuts. The obstacle then ended up on the Daytona course, the exact course where rookie Kevin would compete as a walk-on.

“I love coming up with obstacles! That’s what I think about 24/7. I know they have consequences. I may be losing friends because of it, but I still just love doing it.”

Note: While the Wingnuts were submitted through the Obstacle Design Challenge, the winner for that season was Kevin Brekke, with Crank It Up.

The Wingnuts ended up being both a huge success and a fiend. It was then incorporated into Wingnut Alley, last season’s Stage Two killer, taking out athletes like Drew Drechsel. (Wingnut Alley is back on Stage Two again this season. Yikes.)

This year, Kevin came up with Deja Vu. The obstacle has a bit of a trapeze feel to it. Ninjas have to reach out to one bar, swing out and lock into a cradle. They then have to reach back, grab a second bar, unlock that, and swing to the dismount.

Here’s Kevin’s original design:

And here’s how it appeared on the show:

David Becker/NBC

It’s a tricky little devil, we’ll tell you that much. There are no fixed points on the obstacle. Ninjas can make a small mistake at any time that prevents them from being able to complete the obstacle.

We had a chance to talk with Kevin after we’d watch the Stage Two competition. We won’t be telling you what happened, but here’s Kevin’s reaction to it:

“It kind of played out exactly how I thought it would. It’s a very mental obstacle. Especially because you go from being stable. Once you unhook, you lose control for a second, then you have to regain control and spot where you’re landing with the bar.

As people replicate these in gyms, they’ll get more comfortable. We saw that last year with the Wingnuts. People were taking a lot of swings and throwing really, really hard and coming in at weird angles because they hadn’t had the chance to get their hands on it at a gym.

But sometimes you feel bad for a friend and I’m making a lot of friends. Although it’s really fun and it’s exciting to see it out here, them falling can take a toll on me. They know it was their mistake, but I had something to do with it.”

So how the heck do you come up with an obstacle like this monster?

“A kid in our gym took the rings off an obstacle and he still had the straps on them. I thought maybe I could keep those rings together and I attached the other ring later. I started messing around with with this movement of going back. Swinging forward and having to go back. I thought it was really different.

The name again came from my dad. I was stuck on the name for months. Before sending it in, within 60 seconds he said, ‘I think it looks like Deja Vu.”

Kevin is an American Ninja Warrior himself. In season nine, he completed the Daytona Qualifying course, made it to the Circuit Board in the City Finals, and tangled with the Jumping Spider on Stage One. Kevin competed in Miami for season 10. He made it to the Slippery Summit in the Qualifiers and endured a shocking early fall on Cannonball Drop in the City Finals. This kept him from having a shot at his own obstacle again this season. But he did hop on it to test the course.

“The only time I ever played around with the movement of Deja Vu was that on day at the gym when I thought of it. I got final confirmation that it was going to be on the show about three weeks before the National Finals (were taped). I had to keep it a secret the whole time. It was pretty hard.

I didn’t even know how one would go about building it. I didn’t know what the final dimensions were going to be. I was all smiles. I wanted to get on it myself. I wish I had actually made National Finals this year so I could get my shot at it on the course. It’s so cool to see it, especially in all the lights.

Testing was surreal. I really focused on my movements when I came off, knowing that I needed to get tension on the ropes so I could do the swings. It went flawlessly. It worked so well in my head and I was able to make it work in real life too.”

Drew Drechsel on Wingnut Alley in season nine.
David Becker/NBC

After creating the Wingnuts, and now Deja Vu, should Kevin head into the witness protection program? There are more than a few Ninjas who’ve taken spills thanks to his creations.

“It’s mostly great feedback. Great compliments. Some people told me it was their favorite obstacle of the season. Even those who fell were in good spirits. They said it wasn’t the obstacle’s fault, it was user error.”

Sorry, Ninja Warriors. We’re not allowed to ban Kevin from the Obstacle Design Challenge, and yes, he’s working on something new right now...

“More household items that have new purposes out here on the course, I think.”

If you have an obstacle idea, there’s still time to submit it! You have until September 14 to get your idea in. If you’re selected as the winner, you’ll be brought out to the course during season 11 to watch your little baby send Ninjas flying!