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Nick Hanson credits Ninja friends for pushing him, making him a stronger Ninja

He experienced success on the Seattle/Tacoma City Finals course.

Matthew Hayward/NBC

Seventeen Ninjas were struck by the Lightning Bolts during the Seattle/Tacoma City Finals course, but they didn’t strike Nick Hanson. Nick made it all the way to the eighth obstacle, the Floating Monkey Bars. He also made it far enough, fast enough to punch his ticket to Vegas! After his success on the City Finals course, we were able to sit down with Nick to pick his brain about the Seattle/Tacoma Finals course, as well as get his thoughts on what he might face in Vegas.

Nick had a lot to say about his City Finals experience.

“So indoors, lots of fun. The indoors and outdoors don’t really matter to me as much because I train in really stupid conditions… I felt like it was a very fast course, made for Ninjas to try to get through it fast. But then once you get to the back half of it, it was like all of a sudden that got throttled down so much because the obstacles were very technical. Obviously Lightning Bolts are a very technical obstacle, but you can still move through them pretty well. But once you get to the Flying Monkey Bars, you’ve got to be accurate. You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to be ready to go.”

“Flying bars was something new to me. I’ve never gotten a chance to play on something like that. And you know, recovering from a shoulder injury, I wasn’t sure how much I could put on that shoulder… I just got pumped and over-gripping was a killer.... But I did have an epic save… I got the first hook. I came back on the second one, and when I made the move I missed, and swung back. As I swung back, my fingers peeled and I was literally hanging onto the Flying Monkey Bar with just like my fingertips. Then I swung back in and hooked my other flying bar back into the slot and then I re-gripped… I didn’t know this at the time, but I guess I was about done at that moment. But I survived it, so high five to that!”

Earning his way to Vegas was a great feeling for Nick, but it was a little bittersweet too.

“You know, it’s a great feeling to know that I barely survived. It was a great feeling because surviving is a real thing now with the cut... We used to be 15 people. Now it’s twelve, thirteen if you include the person that stamps their way automatically… There’s going to be a veteran that’s very strong that’s not going to make it. And sure enough, it happened… As honored and awesome as it is for me to have made it through and to survive to Las Vegas, it was at the expense of Jake Murray. And it was at the expense of Lance Pekus and Meagan Martin... It’s partially a bittersweet feeling knowing that they’re not going to be here.”

Historically, in Vegas, speed has been a bit of a nemesis for the Eskimo Ninja. In season eight, Nick timed out in Stage One. In Season nine, he finished Stage One with just five seconds to spare. Last season, the time clock was once again his enemy, as he missed hitting the Stage One buzzer by a mere few seconds. It sounds like Nick has been working to beat that nemesis though, with a little help from his friends.

“I spent a week in Chicago with Ethan Swanson, Jesse Labreck, Chris DiGangi, Michael Torres - some of the most powerful and quick people on the planet - training every single day in all the different Ultimate Ninjas gyms. And it was totally eye opening. Because when I’m back at home in Unalakleet, it’s me, and maybe my friend videoing… It’s just me and him, and I have to kind of push myself, but it’s really easy to say, ‘I don’t feel like going anymore,’ or, ‘I could take one more breath.’ But when I have Ethan, and Grant, and Jesse, and Chris, and all these guys yelling at me saying, ‘Can’t stop! Can’t stop,’ I have to go because they’re yelling at me. And that’s not just because I’m taking my time… They know that in between obstacles I have to be faster…So I get through a Spider Wall or something that they have, and I jump down, and they’re like, ‘Push it! Push it! Push it!’ Having that push and having that group of friends to push me to that level is so nice. And it just totally changed my game.”

“I’m so much stronger after training with Ethan and Jesse Labreck and those guys in Chicago, and I feel like the level of Ninja has been taken to the absolute extreme... It’s like we’re, as a Ninja collective, so much stronger than ever before.”

As for Nick Hanson’s goals for Vegas, he says, “Get through Stage One, and hit the buzzer with plenty of time to spare. Get through Stage Two, strong and confident. And then get onto Stage Three, and see what I can do. And I really feel like those kinds of things on Stage Three are something that I can accomplish.”