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Joe Moravsky on why this is his year: ‘I think it’s as simple as mindset.’

Teens or no teens, he’s only worried about himself this season.

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Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Look, we know that American Ninja Warrior is all about Ninjas versus the obstacles. We really try to avoid thinking about things in the sense of competition between competitors. But season 13 definitely has us thinking about rookies and veterans.

If we thought the teens were going to run away with season 13, Joe Moravsky struck back with his Qualifying run.

On the second night of the season 13 Qualifiers, it seemed like the new rookies would dominate the highlights once again. That was until Joe Moravsky hit the course. The nine-time competitor has never missed the National Finals and was named Last Ninja Standing twice. To kick off season 13, he completed the Mega Wall, placed third overall, and stated that this could be his year.

Joe is incredibly aware of what the rookies and teens bring to American Ninja Warrior. Yes, he needs to face the obstacles. But in the end, if this is his year, he needs to be aware of his competition.

Before Joe started his season, we spoke to him about the new teens and why exactly this might be his time. We’ll let Joe tell you in his own words.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

On the new teen competitors

“Of course, I have expectations for most of them. They’re not selected to be on American Ninja Warrior season 13 because they’re terrible. They’re really, really good. It’s an understatement. There’s a lot of people that are fans of the show that follow social media and they are like, ‘There’s 15-year-olds joining? They’re not going to be able to keep up.’ And I’m just laughing. I’m like, ‘These guys have no idea.’

I hope the 15-year-old, 16-year-olds live up to their potential because we could very well see people like Kaden (Lebsack), and Vance (Walker), and Jay (Lewis), and True (Becker). Every one of them. I’m literally sitting here thinking about the names that we could see on Stage Two and Three in Vegas. And honestly, they’re so light that Stage Three is where I’m worried. They just have to get there and then it’s a playground for them.

I’m not nervous, I’m not scared. I have an edge mentally, physically. I’m more explosive. They may be lighter and can hang longer, I can run faster. I can jump higher, I can push more, I can lift more. As long as it’s not a Stage Three hanging contest, I’m not going to worry about them or anybody else. Because I’ve done plenty of seasons where I’ve done that, and it doesn’t work well for me. Once I start worrying about the Daniel Gil’s or the Josh Levin’s or the Flip Rodriguez’s, it doesn’t become my game anymore. It becomes about hoping they fall.

And that’s, one, not what Ninja is about, and two, it doesn’t help your confidence when somebody beats a stage right in front of you and they’re going to the rope and you’re like, “Wow. I have to race him on the rope now if I beat Stage Three.” That’s not the mentality you want. You want to be able to focus on yourself. So I’m not worried about anyone except me and just going to do it.”

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

On his ambitions for this year

“I think it’s as simple as mindset. Every year I come out here I’m like, ‘I know I can do it. Just got to do it.’ And this year it’s more of a, ‘I know I’m going to do it, so let’s do it.’ I don’t know what it is. I just have a good feeling. I don’t know, I just have a good feeling. I get it, mistakes happen. But I have a good feeling, I don’t know.

I feel it. I feel like it’s time. I feel like it’s the decision I had to make. I don’t know how I can explain that better. It’s almost like somebody said, ‘Joe, here’s the opportunity again. But are you going to do it this time?’ And I just feel like that question is out there and I’m answering it with, ‘Yeah. This is the time.’

I can’t explain it. I’ve been training a lot of rope. I got some bruises, and scrapes, and scabs, and training technique, and studying, and even buying special shoes for the rope assuming we have it again. I’m just not worried. I’m not going to be worried if Daniel gets there. I’m not going to be worried if Flip gets there. I’m not going to be worried if Lance gets there, or any of these teens get there. Even though I know they can climb, I’m not worried. I’m just going to go do it. I’m just going to do it.”

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Joe’s next step in his quest for Stage Four will come when he takes on the Semifinals in a few weeks’ time.