Team Europe will be competing in USA vs The World for the 5th time in a row on Sunday, January 26, at 9 p.m. on NBC. And just like last year, their team is full of all-new members. Five of the six team members have competed in Ninja Warrior competitions in various other countries, but being a part of Team Europe will be a new experience for them all. Hailing from six different countries in Europe, this team is bringing fresh energy and a whole lot of talent.
Hometown: Moscow, Russia
Nicknamed “The Russian Rocket”, Anton Fomenko competed in Russian Ninja Warrior Season 1. After completing the course in both the Qualifiers and the Semifinals, as well as making it to Stage 2 of the Finals, Anton packed up and moved to the United States to pursue his Ninja Warrior dreams. Last year, he met Sean Bryan, who invited him to the Bay Area to train with him and help him build obstacles for a new ninja gym.
According to Sean, “Anton’s power-endurance is astounding. He doesn’t know how to slow down on a course or in training. The first time I saw him, I saw his talent, but his technique wasn’t quite there. I then saw him a few months later and he went from impressive amateur to elite.” Sean’s statement was proven very accurate when Anton had the opportunity to test the Jumping Spider in Atlanta. Instead of using the tramp to jump into the Spider Wall, Anton jumped from the trampoline, all the way through the 10 foot Spider chasm, and to the next trampoline without touching the walls. Talk about power!
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Nicknamed the “American Dream Ninja”, Damir Okanovic is a Bosnian refugee who immigrated to the United States at the age of 10. His family settled in Utica, New York. There, Damir learned English and small town American culture. He also watched Sasuke and ANW with his dad, which led to building obstacles and training in their backyard.
Damir competed on ANW season 9, making it all the way to Stage 1 of the National Finals. In season 11, Damir went all the way from the Walk on Lottery in Oklahoma City to the National Finals!
Hometown: Bucharest, Romania
Kesu Ahmed is an up & coming musician, video producer, and model, but he is also a talented parkour athlete. Parkour has always been a part of Kesu’s life. He grew up doing parkour on the streets of Corabia, Romania, and when he moved to Bucharest at 19, he helped build the first parkour/freerunning gym in the city “Reborn Education”, where he still trains today.
Prior to competing on Ninja Warrior, Kesu had never trained Ninja obstacles, yet he became the first athlete to hit the buzzer in the Romanian show’s history.
Hometown: Oslo, Norway
One of Norway’s most accomplished climbers, Magnus Midtbo is the only member of Team Europe who has never competed on some form of Ninja Warrior. He did, however, try out Ninja obstacles for the first time last January, and reported that everything felt natural except the Warped Wall. He also tested and completed the ANW 11 Cincinnati Qualifier course, receiving a souvenir from the Sling Shot obstacle, in the form of a cut above his eyebrow.
Magnus is a YouTube sensation, showing off his climbing and traveling adventures to 340,000 followers. His videos demonstrate incredible climbing abilities and rare & dangerous climbing feats, both of which should be helpful on the course.
Hometown: Salzburg, Austria
Steffi Noppinger became a national sensation in the first year of Ninja Warrior Austria when she was the only woman to finish both the Qualifying and Semi Finals courses. She was also just the 2nd woman in all of Europe to reach the Finals on their home country’s show. Steffi has an impressive athletic background, earning accolades in freeride skiing, bouldering, and gymnastics.
The gymnastics she was involved in was “TeamGym”, which is a European form of gymnastics where group of 10 girls all do trampoline, tumbling and dancing. All of Steffi’s sports experience is sure to give her an edge on the course.
Hometown: Antibes, France
One of France’s strongest Ninjas, Thomas Hubener is also a Cirque du Soliel acrobat. He has performed in more than 2,000 shows over the past 8 years all over the world, including 71 United States cities, Japan, China, Russia, Canada and Mexico. His performances display skills including lots of parkour, swinging rings, and Acro-nets. Thomas says his experience in Cirque is very similar to being part of Team Europe—each night performers from more than 50 countries come together as a team for a common goal. Cirque also helps him train to be a better ninja by giving him good body control, allowing him to work on his upper body and legs, and giving him plenty of practice hanging for long periods of time and climbing ropes.