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Relaxed, fun, and quite successful — Dan Yager takes an unconventional approach

The Seattle/Tacoma courses were good to Dan.

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Matthew Hayward/NBC

A very relaxed Dan Yager had an impressively strong showing on the American Ninja Warrior Seattle/Tacoma courses this year. On the City Qualifier course, his decision to go for the Mega Wall cost him the buzzer, but he easily made the cut for Finals. During Monday’s City Finals episode, Dan was one of only three competitors to make it all the way to the Northwest Passage, the 9th obstacle on the Seattle/Tacoma Finals course, earning himself the top finish of the night and a trip to the Power Tower.

Despite having the top finish on the Finals course, we had to dig deep to get Dan to acknowledge his success during our interview. He’s a humble kind of guy!

Excerpts from our interview:

Q: Walk us through the City Finals experience.

A: Ah, the City Finals run. That was fun. I’ll start by saying that this season was very relaxed for me. I trained very little, which meant that my expectations and my nerves and all of that were very low, so I was just having a good time. And I think that reflected… I did really well, because I didn’t really care how I did and I was just out there to have fun… I just went out there with a super clear mind, just knowing that it’s a great opportunity, and I was going to have fun with it. And it worked out.

It worked out…. Well, I guess that’s one way to say that you were the TOP FINISHER in a loaded field of top-notch competitors. We’d probably be shouting it from the rooftops, but we appreciate Dan’s chill and humble vibe. Since he wasn’t actually saying it himself, we said it for him!

Q: You finished first of the night, you went to the Power Tower, and you also solidified your spot back in Vegas. How did that feel?

A: It felt good, especially with how poorly last season went, going out on the third obstacle in Qualifier, which was maybe my worst season, to having my best season that I’ve had, in Qualifier, at least. Yeah, it’s good. It felt good to have redemption, and to kind of reiterate that you’re not defined by one run. Ninja’s a tricky game. Anything can happen to anybody at any time, and we all know that, so it’s kind of proof that you can have both ends of the spectrum in back-to-back seasons.

Matthew Hayward/NBC

As Dan looks forward to Vegas, here’s where his mind is at.

Q: Any nerves or anticipation for Vegas?

A: There’s always a little bit of nerves. It’s impossible to not have nerves. If someone tells you they’re not nervous, I don’t believe that’s true. But the same feeling though - This season’s been just really light-hearted. I’m out here to have fun. I’m not really focused on results, but focused on trying hard and having fun, and kind of see how far that takes me.

Q: What do you expect from yourself this year on the Vegas courses?

A: I expect to have fun. I know that. I know I can try hard. And I think my abilities should carry me to, hopefully, a couple of buzzers.

So far, Dan’s relaxed strategy is working well. We hope he gets those buzzers in Vegas!