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All Stars 2019: Skills competition recap

The new challenges sent the Ninjas literally flying for our viewing pleasure.

David Becker/NBC

This article was published prior to Drew Drechsel’s arrest. NBC and American Ninja Warrior have since cut ties with him.

What American Ninja Warrior fan doesn’t love the All Stars skills competition? It’s just about going big. Really, REALLY big. After this year’s All Stars team competition, we dove into six challenges designed to let the Ninjas literally fly. This year, we were also teased with the re-match of re-matches. American Ninja Warrior Champion Isaac Caldiero, and the only Ninja to hit six buzzers in a season, Geoff Britten, would meet again!

You can find the results of the team competition here.

Below, we’re reviewing the over-the-top challenges and jaw-dropping results of the skills competition.

Mega Spider Climb

Ninjas raced side-by-side up the 80-foot tower of Stage Four, using the bracing “spider climb” technique. That’s not terrifying or anything. This challenge was won last season by Jessie Graff.

Round one:

  • Lance Pekus vs Chris Wilczewski
    Winner: Chris Wilczewski
  • Neil Craver vs R.J. Roman
    Winner: Neil Craver

Round two:

  • Chris Wilczewski vs Neil Craver
    Champion: Chris Wilczewski

In a finish that was so close, producers needed to review the footage, Chris won by four 100’s of a second.

Wicked Wingnuts

The space between the Wingnuts was increased until only one competitor could land the transfer. Last year, Drew Drechsel won this challenge at 20 feet. He sat it out this season.

14 feet:

  • Kevin Bull: Safe
  • Adam Rayl: Safe
  • Ethan Swanson: Safe
  • Josh Salinas: OUT!
  • Najee Richardson: Safe

16 feet:

  • Kevin Bull: Safe
  • Adam Rayl: Safe
  • Ethan Swanson: Safe
  • Najee Richardson: Safe

17 feet:

  • Kevin Bull: OUT!
  • Adam Rayl: Safe
  • Ethan Swanson: Safe
  • Najee Richardson: Safe

18 feet (Anyone else starting to sweat?):

  • Adam Rayl: Safe
  • Ethan Swanson: OUT!
  • Najee Richardson: Safe

19 feet:

  • Adam Rayl: Safe
  • Najee Richardson: OUT!

Champion: Adam Rayl, who then dragged his poor mother into the water with him.

Duel Doorknob Drop

The Doorknob Drop from the season 10 Los Angeles course returned. Here, the Ninjas raced up a double set of drops to a buzzer. The much-anticipated Geoff Britten and Isaac Caldiero face-off took place during this challenge.

Round one

  • Daniel Gil vs Josh Levin
    Winner: Josh Levin by a hair!
  • Geoff Britten vs Isaac Caldiero
    Winner: Geoff Britten

After the competition, Geoff shared that he was feeling some pain in his forearm, and would not take part in the next round. The next fastest time belonged to Daniel Gil, who moved into the next competition.

Round two

  • Josh Levin vs Daniel Gil
    Champion: Josh Levin

Striding Steps

For this year’s competition, the Ninjas raced side-by-side, down and back on a series of tiny platforms. Last season, Jake Murray won this challenge.

Round one

  • Nicholas Coolidge vs Tyler Gillett:
    Winner: Nicholas Coolidge
  • Joe Moravsky vs Drew Knapp
    Winner: Joe Moravsky
  • Jake Murray vs Allyssa Beird
    Winner: Jake Murray (who flat-out took a seat after Allyssa fell in the water!)
  • Thomas Stillings vs Flip Rodriguez
    Winner: Thomas Stillings

Round two

  • Nicholas Coolidge vs Joe Moravsky:
    Winner: Joe Moravsky (who skipped the rope to go for the lead)
  • Jake Murray vs Thomas Stillings
    Winner: Thomas Stillings

Round three

  • Joe Moravsky vs Thomas Stillings
    Champion: Joe Moravsky

After another photo finish, it was determined Joe won by five 100’s of a second. Both he and Thomas leapt into the water for a much needed cool down.

Super Salmon Ladder

This challenge is becoming a classic of the skills competition. At 35 rungs, it’s about seven Salmon Ladders in a row. Sean Bryan won this last year and he had his eye on the prize once again.

Results:

  • Austin Gray: 16 rungs
  • Dan Polizzi: 16 rungs
  • Barclay Stockett: 28 rungs! (This put her in the lead for the time being AND set a new record for women.)
  • Sean Bryan: 35 rungs

Champion: Sean Bryan

Using massive leaps to skip rungs, Sean set a new time record at 17.4 seconds and defended his Super Salmon Ladder title.

Big Dipper Freestyle

Oh, THIS was a lot of fun to watch. The crew sliced the tricky Double Dipper in half, leaving Ninjas with one heck of a launching slide into the pool below. This was pure, freestyle fun. Matt, Akbar, and Kristine were on hand as the judges. But with no rules, and wild Ninjas, things were completely subjective and screamingly funny.

Round one

  • Ethan Swanson: Known as a daredevil, he set the bar pretty high with two twists and flips.
    Score: 26
  • Flip Rodriguez: Come on, Flip is his NAME, after all. But when he tried for a tuck, he ended up with a watery bodyslam.
    Score: 17
  • Brent Steffensen: He came in fast and low when his hands slipped off the bar early but he still squeezed in a back flip.
    Score: 18
  • Sean Bryan: Did anyone else start panicking when Sean put his legs OVER the bar? He went upside down and landed three full rotations!
    Score: 29
  • Grant McCartney: He planned for a dive and ended up with a loud bellyflop when he over rotated.
    Score: 23
  • Drew Drechsel: Drew skipped the bar and went for a straight-forward dive.
    Score: 21.5

Round two

  • Flip Rodriguez: He nailed a double backflip in a much better performance.
    Score: 24
  • Brent Steffensen: He also improved on his previous score with a full-twisted double layout. Score: 27
  • Grant McCartney: Careful here, kiddos. Grant ripped down his shorts to show an itsy-bitsy pineapple-dotted speedo. He yelled that he was going for three flips and a belly flop, and he delivered.
    Score: 28
  • Ethan Swanson: He opted for a double back flip that looked a little loose.
    Score: 21
  • Drew Drechsel: This was double trouble! Drew called up Flip to join him. With both on the bar at once, they both managed to pull off stunts. One flip for Flip and two for Drew.
    Score: 30

Sean Bryan: After a Grant imitation, Sean revealed an Ethan Swanson shirt and climbed the truss (which honestly had us screaming, “NO!”). Stepping back down, he stripped to a Jake Murray shirt. Sean then hit Jake’s signature peace-sign post in mid-air as he headed down to the water.
Score: 30!

Drew and Sean were tied, which meant it was time for a dive off!

Round three

  • Drew Drechsel: He called out that he was going for arms crossed, 180 turn, and a point, wink, and a splash for the judges. Yup. He pulled it off.
    Score: 27
  • Sean Bryan: Sporting some glaring welts from his previous efforts, Sean grabbed the bar backwards. Going in blind, he still landed two front flips and a twist. As well as his second win of the night.
    Score: 30

Champion: Sean Bryan

You can find the results of the All Stars team challenge here. And remember, season 11 of American Ninja Warrior premieres Wednesday, May 29 at 8/7c on NBC!