In my role as the editor of American Ninja Warrior Nation, I’m in a unique position. I get to talk to the Ninjas all along the way during the season and watch their runs unfold right in front of my face.
There are so many great moments during those weeks and months. I usually tell you about those as the season airs on TV. But there are also a handful of moments that are kind of awful to experience. I thought I’d bring you my top five most shocking moments from season 13 today.
These are the moments where I distinctly remember being stopped in my tracks from shock.
5.) Mathis “The Kid” Owhadi falling early in the Qualifiers
We had just gotten started with the season. The energy was high. We were all anxious to see what storylines would emerge and who would make this their season to shine. And there was one of our top competitors! We expected The Kid to definitely fuel the conversation about veterans and teen rookies. Then he was in the water from... A balance obstacle? Everyone was rocked back on their heels. Season 13 would not be a predictable one.
4.) Leaving Flip Rodriguez behind in the Semifinals
In his nine previous seasons on the show, Flip had made it to the National Finals seven times. When I saw him put up a run to the eighth obstacle on the Semifinal course, I assumed he’d still cut into the top 15. Then the course clears started and they didn’t let up. As every buzzer was hit, Flip slipped lower on the leaderboard. When the dust settled, 12 Ninjas cleared the course, and the make-or-break moment was the ninth obstacle. I looked at my notes on confusion as I realized Flip’s year had quietly come to an end.
3.) Meagan Martin’s fall on Stage One
This was hard to watch as a human. I’ve known Meagan through my years working on the show. She’s a great person and a great athlete. I knew she was struggling with a few things during season 13, one being exhaustion. But she had still cleared the Qualifying course and forged ahead in the Semifinals. To have things come to an end almost the instant she stepped on the course, and in a pretty rough way, was one moment that made me grab my heart and wish I could hug her.
2.) Seeing Joe Moravsky fall on Stage Two
Similar to Meagan, it was the abruptness of his fall that left everyone’s jaws on the floor. Yes, I was surprised by his Stage One fall, but it happened long into the course. With every run, I start to worry about a fall the longer a competitor is out there. When Joe moved to Stage Two, I assumed everything was back on track for him. I actually wasn’t even looking when he fell on the first obstacle. I was eyeing V Formation, expecting Joe to be there any moment.
1.) Finding out Daniel Gil wasn’t in Las Vegas
Oh, this one is so memorable. I had just arrived at the hotel where interviews would be conducted prior to the National Finals. A producer and I were going over the list of competitors there that day and reviewing schedules. He looked at me and said, “You know who’s NOT here, right?”
I stared back down at the list in front of me. It took me a minute and then I gasped and said, “You’re kidding?”
The producer shook his head no and walked away. I was stunned. The returning champ? The returning runner-up? One of the favorites to take the title?
In the end, it all worked out. Daniel is okay and he’ll come back stronger. But still, whew, that was a doozy.
Those are my personal most shocking moments of the season. What are yours? Leave them in the comment section!