Twenty-one year old from North Pole competes in American Ninja Warrior

Made run through the semi-final round
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 2:56 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Tristan Wyman has admired NBC’s American Ninja Warrior (ANW) for over ten years. Wyman was in middle school when he first heard about the show and its notorious obstacle course before coming across it on television. Instantly Tristan became hooked when ANW was in its fourth season. His dreams became a reality earlier this year, as he was a contestant in Season 14 of ANW.

Wyman, with the support and encouragement of his family, began building small obstacles in their backyard to begin training. Over the years, more and more pieces had been made (or remade) for Tristan to use.

“We’ve progressively continued to build more and more, and now, I have this crazy course in my backyard,” added Wyman.

Tens of thousands of people enter submission videos each year with hopes of NBC choosing them to be the next contestant, but for Wyman, it only took one attempt. Thankfully, he came from a unique city in Alaska: North Pole.

“I’ve grown up with a really blessed life, and I don’t have a ‘sob story’ about a tragedy,” commented Wyman. “I played into the themes of North Pole with Santa Claus and stuff like that, and they loved it from the start.”

Tristan dawned a red shirt with a figure posing as a human flag pole on a candy cane during his qualifying run, and Santa was in attendance to watch Tristan run his qualifying round too.

Once Wyman knew he had been casted, he began honing in on training, focusing on specific movements that are essential to completing the course rather than a true, specified obstacle because it was unknown what obstacles the course would contain. American Ninja Warrior also keeping new obstacles and movements in their sleeve for Wyman and his fellow competitors.

Leading up to the first filming, the course details had been hidden from the competitors until the day of filming. Just hours before the event began, they were given a walk through, filled with instructions and rules with each obstacle and a demonstration of each.

All three stages of ANW is taped in the spring, and aired at a later date. The qualifying round took place at the end of March in San Antonio, Texas. Wyman made his television debut, June 27.

“It’s been crazy actually,” said Wyman. “I’ve never really been on any sort of TV... even like local stuff. We had this huge watch party with everyone. There were a ton of people there to support me in person. The messages I’ve also received have been amazing.”

Putting himself back in the moment, Tristan had cleared the first two four obstacles with ease, and then faced the new “final frontier” obstacle. The new, fifth obstacle was where Tristan’s run concluded as he splashed into the pool below.

“I was freaking out a little bit,” said Wyman on the untrained obstacle. “I didn’t know for certain, but I was extremely sure I was going to be moving through (to the next round) at that point. I was late enough in the taping to know how far and how fast I had to make it.”

When Tristan made his initial jump onto the bar, it was slightly displaced, placing the right side of the bar out of position, already starting at a disadvantage. Rather than fixing the bar before moving forward, Wyman opted to attempt it, and ending up overshooting the first landing spot.

Wyman would have to wait until the final episode of the semifinals to see his run appear. For the semifinal round, the obstacle course was in Los Angeles, California.

Similarly to the qualifying round, Wyman was in the latter half of the group to run the obstacle course. Six of the first ten competitors had finished all ten obstacles advancing to the final round.

“For the rest of us, we kind of had it set in our minds that we basically had to finish the course or get to the ninth obstacle to move on,” stated Wyman. “That was getting in my head... You don’t see it on the show as well, but if you see the full run, I was just off.”

In the semifinal run, Wyman cleared the first two obstacles: “Shrinking Steps” and “Over Under.” The third obstacle however, “Air Surfer,” proved to be the insurmountable obstacle for Wyman’s time as part of American Ninja Warrior season 14.

“Even though it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, it was still so cool,” recalled Wyman. “To see a semifinals course, which is so much bigger than even the qualifying course. It was outside. My run was at 3:00 a.m., and midnight to 4:00 a.m. was the window of running the course.”

Even though Tristan didn’t make it to the finals in Vegas in his first year of American Ninja Warrior competition, it doesn’t mean it’s his last. American Ninja Warrior is a show that will feature returning ninjas. Not every competitor is a rookie. If called back as a veteran, he would have a slight advantage in terms of mental and physical preparation compared to his (potential) future competitors.

“I’m definitely going to be focusing on that a lot,” said Wyman. “To take it one obstacle at a time. It’s something I’ve worked on, since then even. This is what’s in front of me. This is what I have to beat, and I know I can do this thing. So, let me do this and when I get to the next part, I’ll get to the next part and work on that.”

“A lot of people don’t even make it to the semifinals or don’t even get to get on the show to begin with,” recognized Wyman.

Growing up, everyone has something that they dream of doing, but very few have the ability to turn those dreams into a reality. Tristan is one of those few. Being in love with American Ninja Warrior for over ten years, Wyman had the opportunity to take this chance to follow his dreams.

“There was still a lot of support,” mentioned Wyman, on the support he’s received after his final episode of the season aired. “All my friends and family still tell me how awesome it is that I got to go on the show.”

Although the future isn’t completely guaranteed, Wyman knows he’ll be submitting again for next season for a crack at earning the title of American Ninja Warrior.

“It’s been ten-plus years in the waiting now. I finally got on the show, and I’m hoping to keep on going and moving forward with it. I’ll continue to go on the show, as long as they’ll (NBC) have me, ended Wyman.

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