Moorestown native Josiah Pippel has advanced to National Finals on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” (ANW) for a chance to win a top prize of $1 million. On July 18, Pippel competed against Jay Lewis on the Power Tower for the Safety Pass, which according to www.americanninjawarriornation.com, allows a re-run on stages one or two of the National Finals should the Safety Pass holder fall or time out. For 16-year-old Pippel, taking on ANW’s toughest obstacles is nothing new.
“My first season on the show was last season, season 13, but I started competing in ninja competitions and training ninja about nine years ago,” he said. “When I was younger, I didn’t really enjoy traditional sports – soccer, baseball, basketball – all that kind of stuff, and then my parents found ninja and I just clicked with it.”
According to www.nbc.com, season 14 marks the return of the lowered age requirement, allowing competitors as young as 15 to take the stage. Obstacle courses continue to evolve and become more challenging, and to advance to the semi-finals, the top 30-35 Ninjas must either complete all six qualifying obstacles, have a quick qualifying time or make it far enough on the course that they rank on the leaderboard.
“Basically, it’s obstacle course racing,” Pippel said of ANW. “There’s upper body obstacles, lower body obstacles and then usually a Warped Wall (a curved platform) somewhere in there … In qualifying, which was back a couple of weeks ago, we had six obstacles, and then this one that just aired (July 18) we had 10 obstacles.”
The top 15 Ninjas, who either complete all 10 obstacles in the semi-finals or get through as much of the course as possible in the fastest time, advance to the National Finals. Pippel explained how he came to ANW.
“You have to make a submission video talking about yourself, showing off ninja skills (and) all of that kind of stuff and then they go through and pick the best ones,” he said.
Obstacles included in the semi-finals are the Kaleidoscope, the Spider Trap and the Power Tower.
“The main course, you’re just by yourself, you’re just running the course at your own pace,” Pippel said. “The Power Tower is a race, so it’s side-by-side up a circular tower … so you start at the bottom and work your way to the top and there’s no real time, it’s just whoever (is) the fastest wins.”
Lewis won the Safety Pass, but Pippel received the second-best time of the night.
“My goal is to just keep up training, keep up my consistency, make sure that when I’m training, I focus really on not falling, not messing up too much on obstacles, really just being consistent so that when I get to Vegas where I can’t fall, I have the best shot,” Pippel said.
He also mentioned some advice for anyone looking to start their journey on ANW.
“Just have fun with it,” he said. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do well. If you fail, get back up again, learn from it, but again, have fun. That’s the most important thing.”