Dennis Paulsen of Ammon competing in American Ninja Warrior challenge in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2019. | Courtesy Dennis Paulsen
IDAHO FALLS – Fans of the hit NBC show “American Ninja Warrior” have a chance to experience what it would be like as a contestant during an upcoming event in Idaho Falls.
Ninjassembly is happening March 5 and 6 at Skyline High School. The two-day event will feature many of the obstacles seen on the show, including the warped wall and quintuple steps. There will also be some balance and spinning beam obstacles, along with the Salmon Ladder. The Salmon Ladder involves performing a pull-up and using momentum or “kipping” to get yourself up and down the steps.
“There will be a variety of about a dozen obstacles,” Event organizer Dennis Paulsen Jr. tells EastIdahoNews.com. “It will be a progressive course so that everybody will be able to accomplish a good portion of it. It will take a well-rounded athlete to be able to do (some of the stuff.)”
Cowboy Ninja Lance Pekus, a competitor on the show, will be in attendance. Pekus works on a ranch in Salmon and was raised in eastern Idaho. Karson Voiles, a ninja warrior from Utah, will also be there.
There will also be several speakers from the National Guard to “inspire youth and adults to identify and overcome their obstacles,” which is the theme of the show.
Paulsen was invited to compete on the show last year but declined because the filming day took place on Sunday. His decision earned him the title “Latter-day Ninja” by the show’s producers because he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He’s run the course multiple times since then in Denver, Miama and Cincinnati and is hoping to be invited to compete on the show again.
Paulsen hasn’t been able to compete at all this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He thought it would be fun to organize a local course.
“Having this big obstacle right now with the current health situation and some of the economic crises going on … (we wanted to inspire people) to overcome their challenges. If they’re not overcoming obstacles, then they’re being stagnant,” Paulsen says. “We want to make it as special as we can.”
Ninjassembly is for anyone 13 and up. Sign-up is free. Several hundred slots are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“Everybody who signs up will have an assigned time to show up. They can warm up for about 10-15 minutes,” says Paulsen. “Everybody who runs the course will help wipe it down in between each run.”
A camera crew will be filming highlights of each day’s activities, which will be streamed on Youtube and Facebook from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Paulsen hopes people will be as excited about the course as he is.
“Start preparing now. Go in the backyard or into the gym and get some exercise,” he says. “Anybody who signs up can submit a unique story about something they’re overcoming. It’s not about who can go the farthest on the course, as much as it is about people giving it their best and we want to know who they are.”