Ever since American Ninja Warrior announced that the National Finals would return in season 13, we’ve been thinking back on season 11, the last time the show had the final four stages in Las Vegas. After looking at the Stage One results a little closer, we’re wondering what takes to create a successful clear. As the season 11 results show, clearing Stage One is easier said than done, and it can take multiple attempts.
There were 28 Stage One clears in Season 11. (Two of those did happen while using the Safety Pass.) Of those 28 clears, eight of them were first-time clears. Of those, only three of the clears were from Ninjas making their premiere attempt at the course.
Clearing Stage One of the National Finals marks an important milestone in a Ninja’s career. There’s getting to the National Finals. Then there’s clearing the first timed, must-complete course of the year. Remember, in the Qualifiers and City Finals, there is no time limit and a Ninja doesn’t necessarily need to reach the buzzer to advance. They need to make it far enough, fast enough.
Once the Ninjas reach Las Vegas, though, all safety nets are removed. (Yes, we’re aware that the existence of the Safety Pass throws a wrench in that statement, but you know what we’re getting at.) It’s a different environment. Ninjas who experienced success earlier in the year aren’t always fully prepared for the new challenges.
In season 11, Stage One of the National Finals had a time limit of 2 minutes and thirty seconds. The Ninjas needed to clear eight obstacles to reach the buzzer.
- Archer Alley
- Spin Your Wheels
- Double Dipper
- Jumping Spider
- Tire Run
- Warped Wall
- Diving Boards
- Twist and Fly
Below, we took a look at those first-time clears and noted how many previous Stage One attempts the Ninja had made in the past. Please note that we’re referring to previous Stage One attempts, not how many previous seasons they had taken part in. For example, if a Ninja has competed five times, but made it to the National Finals once, that would be one previous attempt.
Tyler Smith - One previous attempt
(This photo is of his Stage Two clear. But we didn’t have a shot from Stage One.)
Kevin Carbone - One previous attempt
Alex Blick - First attempt
Nate Burkhalter - One previous attempt
Ben Wales - First attempt (rookie)
Karsten Williams - Five previous attempts
Chris DiGangi - Three previous attempts
Seth Rogers - First attempt (rookie)
What do you think it takes to make a successful run at Stage One? Do you think Ninjas more often than not need more than one attempt in their careers before they get it? Do you think season 13 will bring more first-time clears?