The show’s hosts declared the former Southern Utah University gymnast a “breakout star” and “top competitor” when she first appeared on the competition in 2019, but this time around, Howard — who had a baby just six months before filming began — was focused less on the competition aspect and more on the fun of it all.
“I definitely went into the season just giving myself grace and just knowing that my baby was my first priority, but also just trying to push myself to be as physically and mentally prepared as I could,” she recently told the Deseret News.
And that approach served her well. Howard reached the national finals — a four-stage course that gets progressively harder with each stage.
During her most recent “American Ninja Warrior” appearance, the Washington, Utah, resident attempted to navigate Stage 1. Howard ended up getting eliminated after falling off the third obstacle of the course, called the Giant Roller Coaster. The obstacle requires competitors to hold on to a pipe and slide down a track, where they then have to effectively time their release so they can grab a second bar and slide down another track, and then once again release and grab a third bar and slide down a smaller track before dismounting.
Howard ultimately lost her balance and fell off the course.
“It’s a bummer,” she said. “We’ll get it next year.”
Only two people — including Salt Lake City’s Isaac Caldiero — have actually been declared an “American Ninja Warrior” champion and claimed the big prize of $1 million. But Howard said she finds the show’s format motivating and always looks forward to returning.
“There’s always something new that I can learn,” she previously told the Deseret News. “There’s always something that I could be better at. And so it’s never like you’ve reached a destination. There’s constantly things that I want to improve on. And so that motivates me to keep going.
“I think that ‘Ninja Warrior’ is a great outlet for me,” she continued. “It’s my fun outlet where I can play like a little kid on a playground, where I can go and be competitive and kind of chase my own dreams. It challenges me to be a better person and a better mom. I seriously just love it.”
The next episode of the “American Ninja Warrior” national finals airs Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. MT on NBC.