David Becker / NBC
Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 | 2 a.m.
One of the most ambitious — if not the largest ever — reality-TV contests is set to give Las Vegas extraordinary exposure during four weeks of finals and a wrap-up special of NBC’s “America Ninja Warrior” Season 5 with a monstrous $500,000 prize at stake for the winner.
The season-ending shows, which feature a cast member of “Le Reve — The Dream” at Wynn Las Vegas, will provide an ultimate challenge for the top finalists when they take on a four-stage course built here and modeled after the epic Mount Midoriyama. New obstacles in Stage One include Piston Road and Silk Slider in the series hosted by Matt Iseman, Akbar Biamila and Jenn Brown.
If any competitor makes it to Stage Two, they will face new challenges with a Rope Jungle and Butterfly Wall. In Stage 3, they will be up against the new Cannonball Incline and the Propeller Bar. Lastly, if a competitor survives all three stages, they will attempt Stage 4 with $500,000 at stake and the title of “American Ninja Warrior.” (No American has ever been crowned “American Ninja Warrior.”)
The Las Vegas shows begin Monday, Aug. 18, for three weeks and then wind up with a thrilling three-hour special of USA teams against the world Sept. 15 using the specially constructed Las Vegas mountain course. The second international competition that pits top U.S. ninjas against world competitors also will air in an encore presentation Sept. 16 on the new cable network Esquire.
Five of the top competitors from “ANW” will go head-to-head against competitors from Japan and Europe in a high-stakes competition on the show’s four-stage finals course. Brian Arnold, Elet Hall, Paul Kasemir, Joe Moravsky and Travis Rosen, worthy athletes and veterans of “ANW,” represent Team USA and have made it to the show’s Las Vegas finals in past seasons.
Team Japan will include a formidable collection of seasoned and up-and-coming athletes: Kazuma Asa, Hitoshi Kanno, Ryo Matachi, Shingo Yamamoto and Yusuke Morimoto. Shingo has competed in every season of Japan’s “Sasuke.”
Stefano Ghisolfi, Vadym Kuvakin, Sean McColl, Tim Shieff and Miska Sutela are Team Europe. Stefano and Sean are champion rock climbers, and Sean won the rock climbing World Cup in 2012. Vadym is a former Olympian for the Ukraine in gymnastics and is a member of the cast of “Le Reve.” Tim, a successful competitor on several seasons of “ANW,” is a world-champion free runner.
Contestants will tackle “American Ninja Warrior’s” punishing Las Vegas finals course in a head-to-head format that pits members from each team against each another.
The NBC series is based on the global hit “Sasuke” from the Tokyo Broadcasting System Television; that original series is in production for its 30th season, and only three contestants have ever completed the course.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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