Love — and competition — was in the air Monday as American Ninja Warrior held its first-ever couples championship, with the winning pair pulling off what was considered to be a bit of an upset.
After crowning an 18-year-old with cerebral palsy as winner of season 15 last week, ANW returned with Monday’s competition, consisting of 10 couples battling it out relay-style on an extreme obstacle course.
With teams earning one point for every obstacle completed, the first round consisted of a six-obstacle course, with the top five teams heading to round two for a 10-obstacle course. The top two couples then raced on the Power Tower to see who would take home the trophy, bragging rights and a $25,000 prize.
Advancing to the finals were Kyle Soderman and Megan Johnson from Austin, TX. He’s a stuntman and she’s a doctor in the U.S. Army, and they met through the show a little over three years ago. Much of their relationship had been happening long distance before they finally bought a house together in Austin recently.
They were up against Jesse “Flex” Labreck and Chris DiGangi from North Aurora, IL, who were considered the favorites to win according to hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila. DiGangi has been competing on Ninja Warrior since 2012, and Labreck began in 2016 and has now hit more buzzers than any other female competitor. They met on the show in her first year and were engaged two years later.
For the Power Tower finale, the guys began the course by pushing a 100-pound sled on an uphill track, then ran through something called The Switchback before launching themselves onto the Big Rope Swing, then the Climb up the Column and across the Cliffhanger, before tagging their partners.
The ladies then had to then go up the Pipe Climb and then fly across the Dropping Shelves to get to the buzzer.
When it finally came time to figure out a winner, Soderman leaned on his speed to jump out to an early lead on DiGangi, using the Cliffhanger to really pull ahead. By the time the ladies had their turn, Johnson was able to use Soderman’s big lead to her advantage and make it to the buzzer a few seconds before Labreck.
“The doctor delivered. What a performance by these two,” Iseman said, with Gbajabiamila calling their win, “the big upset.”
Soderman and Johnson picked up the $25,000 prize money, which they said will be going toward their new home in Texas.