SALT LAKE CITY — When Utahn Karson Voiles conquered Stage 1 of the “American Ninja Warrior” national finals with 19:78 seconds to spare, it was all because of hard work — and a little bit of magic.
Before Voiles competed in the Las Vegas finals Monday night, his daughter promised she would help guide him through the course with her magic. As the gym owner from West Haven, Weber County, navigated the eight-obstacle course, his wife and daughter — who proudly waved her magic wand as her father competed — could be seen on the sidelines enthusiastically cheering on their hero.
After making it through the third obstacle of the course, called the Double Dipper, Voiles took a moment to blow a kiss to his little girl. The Double Dipper proved fatal that night, knocking out 10 competitors and proving to be a falling point for several top contenders. It knocked out Ninja favorite Joe Moravsky, who failed Stage 1 for the first time in his career, and Travis Rosen, a 43-year-old “American Ninja Warrior” veteran who ended up breaking his ankle while dismounting from the Double Dipper.
Voiles continued on the course, running over slanting tires, racing up the Warped Wall, darting across thin balance beams and twisting and flying onto a net that he quickly climbed in a rush to hit the buzzer. Voiles completed the course in 2:05:22 — plenty of time before the 2:25 requirement.
Monday night marked Voiles’ fourth trip to the national finals. Although this wasn’t his first time completing Stage 1, advancing to the next phase of the finals this year was especially meaningful for the competitor, as he revealed his wife was dealing with a tumor in her head.
“My wife is the warrior,” the “Ninja Warrior” competitor said with visible emotion. “She takes care of our (family). … She’s super mom.”
One of the show’s announcers called Voiles’ successful Stage 1 run “a truly magical moment” for his family. Voiles was one of 12 competitors who completed the course. Other notable finishers were Jamie Rahn — who finished the course barefoot after losing his shoe during one of the early obstacles — and Austin Gray, the first finisher of the night who donated a kidney to his friend earlier this year.
Brent Steffensen, another Utah competitor from Salt Lake City, came close to completing the course but timed out on the final obstacle, the Twist and Fly. Monday night marked Steffensen’s eighth trip to the national finals.
Another Utah competitor, University of Utah alumnus Eric Middleton, has yet to appear on the national finals. The second night of the finals — featuring another set of Ninjas seeking to conquer Stage 1 — airs on NBC Monday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. MDT. The second, third and fourth stage competitions are scheduled for Sept. 10.