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Daniel Gil looks ahead, ‘ I expect to hit several more buzzers this year, starting with Stage One’

He’s moving on with confidence, regardless of the Safety Pass.

Daniel Gil delivered exactly what the American Ninja Warrior fans were expecting at the Oklahoma City Finals. With a casual ease and confidence, Daniel zipped through all 10 obstacles to lock in the fastest time of the night and a return trip to the Power Tower.

That’s where there was one surprise waiting. Daniel had to race Mathis “The Kid” Owhadi, a close friend and Ninja that trains with him all the time. In a very narrow battle, Daniel missed out on the trifecta of Mega Wall, Speed Pass, and Safety Pass.

But that has no bearing on how he’ll perform when he returns to the National Finals for his fifth time this season. In his previous four seasons on the show, Daniel has never failed to make it to Las Vegas, and he’s never failed to clear Stage One. Season eight even saw him on Stage Three. With a pedigree like that, Daniel is still a top contender for the season, Safety Pass or no.

Daniel touched base with us shortly after we all arrived in Las Vegas this year. He gave us some insight on that fight against Mathis Owhadi, and what he expects from the National Finals this year, both from the course and from himself.

“The City Finals experience was incredible. It was just another opportunity to get to put my skills to the test, and see how far I could get, see if I could hit another City Finals buzzer. This is my fourth City Finals buzzer hit in a row, so I’m very pleased, very happy, and looking forward to seeing how that will translate to my fifth time in Vegas.”

Brett Deering/NBC

“Going to the Power Tower for City Finals, I knew that it was literally going to be anyone’s game. If there was one Ninja that I did not want to go up against, it was the Kid, because I knew exactly what he was capable of. Him being taller, and lankier than I am, I knew that he had a little bit more reach, but when we do speed courses back at home in Texas, it’s back and forth. He’s a little bit longer, but I’m a little bit faster, and just have a little bit more of the experience with the pressure.

But man, he came through. If there’s anyone I’d rather lose to on the Power Tower, I’m glad it was Kid, because he deserved it, and he worked hard for it, and I know what went into that win for him.”

Brett Deering/NBC

“Coming back to Vegas for the fifth season for myself is truly such a joy. I woke up this morning and was like, ‘Here I am, doing what I love on a national level with friends, with family.’ The hard part’s behind me. All the training, the grueling hours and hours everyday, that’s done. The rest of it moving on is just the joy of getting to compete, the joy of seeing what I’m capable of, and seeing what obstacles they’re going to have this season at the National Finals.”

“I expect the courses here at the National Finals to look similar to how they’ve been earlier this year, which is a little more technical, not quite as difficult strength wise, but twice as hard technically. I’m looking forward to seeing the challenge, I think it will make Stage One a little bit harder, because we had a record number last year, like over 40 get past Stage One. I think we’ll have a little bit fewer Ninjas, just because I see some weird upsets possibly happening, because the obstacles, like I said, are more technical this year.”

Brett Deering/NBC

“I expect greatness. I expect to hit several more buzzers this year, starting with Stage One. I won’t know what the obstacles are until I get there and see them. Then the visualization begins, and I’ll put myself in a position to mentally go through every single move, every single hit, grab, release, transfer, all of it. I love that part as well. I’m expecting to do well, and that’s the hope, and the plan.”