ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Update Thursday, June 6:
One of two Alaskans competing on the show "American Ninja Warrior" made it through to the next round Wednesday. Unalakleet's Nick Hanson completed the course, including scaling the 18-foot-tall "Mega Wall" to make it into the Top 30.
The mega-wall is an option -- competitors can also choose the 14-foot Warped Wall -- that athletes can win $10,000 if they make it to the top.
Hanson is one of just 10 athletes who completed the course -- with the ninth-fastest time. Only one other competitor, Adam Rayl, scaled the Mega Wall.
Two Alaskan “Ninja Warrior” athletes are set to make runs on Wednesday night’s showing of “American Ninja Warrior” from 7:00-9:00 on Channel 2.
Nick Hanson, of Unalakleet, is a four-year veteran of the show, and Cody Johnston, of Sitka, is making his first TV appearance on the show, though he’s competed for a spot in the past.
Hanson, who calls himself “The Eskimo Ninja,” talked with Channel 2 by phone Wednesday afternoon. While he couldn’t say how he did in his run during the Los Angeles qualifying round, he did talk about the new course.
“Some of the obstacles this year have a lot more dynamic movements, where you’re swinging off of something and you have to jump to another thing,” Hanson said, “rather than just the straight bars or simple things.”
Another addition this year is the option to scale an 18-foot “mega-wall” instead of the regular 14-foot Warped Wall. If you scale the Mega-wall, Hanson says, you can win $10,000. While he wouldn’t let on the results of his attempt before the show airs, he says he’s always up for a challenge.
“If there’s an 18-foot wood wall in front of me, I’m going to give it a shot, so you know I’m going to give it a try,” Hanson said.
Cody Johnston, the “Anesthesia Ninja,” is a nurse anesthetist at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka. Johnston tells Channel 2 he’s competed twice before. Wednesday’s episode will be the first time his run will be televised.
Johnston, a Navy veteran, built a salmon ladder in his backyard to start training in 2014– it’s one of the American Ninja Warrior obstacles that makes an appearance in some form on nearly every course, where contestants must hold a bar with two hands, and jump up to the next angled support for the bar.
Johnston and his family moved to Sitka three years ago, and lacking an obstacle gym in town to train in, he decided to start one of his own.
“There was nothing like this here. There was a rec center, where I could work out, but there was no obstacles, and living in Southeast Alaska, it’s a rainforest, so you’re at the mercy of the environment, so I thought, let’s open up an obstacle gym, this is the perfect environment to keep people active, and keep them dry at the same time.”
The two say the camaraderie between Ninja athletes, and the Alaskans is a supportive one. Along with Nate DeHaan, of Bethel, who isn’t listed as a televised competitor Wednesday night, Hanson and Johnston got to spend time together in Los Angeles in March, when the episode was filmed.
Johnston said Hanson ran the sidelines with his kids during his run.
“You couldn’t find a more genuine set of individuals than Nick and Nate,” Johnston said. “We encouraged everybody, we hung out on set, and the people you know you encouraged just as much as the people you didn’t know, and vice versa.”
Wednesday’s showing of “American Ninja Warrior: Los Angeles City Qualifier” is scheduled to air Wednesday night from 7-9 p.m., just after the News Hour.
SPOILER ALERT: American Ninja Warrior Nation posted Nick Hanson's full run earlier this week -- shown below.