Desert Ninjas

By Chris Cooper

In Gymnastics/Tumbling, Special Populations

September 09, 2014

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“American Ninja Warrior” qualifiers meet in Sin City to try and conquer Mt. Midoriyama for the first time.

It’s hard to catch your breath in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In a city renowned for its sights—but not its views—the American Ninja Warrior Final transformed a dusty parking lot in the desert into a glowing extension of the famed Las Vegas Strip.

Scattered across two acres were four stages; three were at eye level, and the last, Mt. Midoriyama, loomed over everything else. Floodlights from helicopters illuminated the peak as a few dozen spectators were packed into small bleachers.

Dust clouds rolled through in great gusts, and spectators begged eye drops from strangers. The heat dehydrated, the floodlights blinded, the stress caused cramps. But ninja-wannabes were still eager for their single chance at Mt. Midoriyama.

“If this were easy, it wouldn’t be fun,” said returning competitor Jamie Rahn.

Over several months, contestants moved through the stages of qualification to arrive at Mt. Midoriyama in Las Vegas. In the six seasons “American Ninja Warrior” has aired in the U.S., no athlete has finished the entire obstacle course. In 2014, 89 contestants were set to try.

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