Andrew Yori, a.k.a the K9 Ninja, hopes that the third time's a charm when he takes on the challenges cooked up by the
evil overlords programming geniuses at "American Ninja Warrior" later this month. "I'm excited," Andrew, a Supervisor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic, tells us. Perhaps even more so because this time, he'll have the Ninja version of a home-field advantage. (More on that later.)
As you may remember, Andrew made his rookie appearance on the show back in 2016, making it all the way to the show finals in Las Vegas. Last year, both Andrew and Candace Granberg, M.D., a pediatric urologist, represented Mayo Clinic on the Ninja circuit but failed to advance past the show's city qualifiers.
To prepare for this year's run, Andrew tells us he's "tweaked" his nutrition and is "working out harder." Based on this photo, we think the new training plan is working.
"You never know what they're going to throw at you in terms of obstacles, but I've been working hard and really focusing on Ninja-specific skills," Andrew says. And while he's practiced his salmon ladders and scaled many a warped wall to get ready, he tells us there's much about the experience that's impossible to prepare for. "You step up to that starting line, and there are cameras, lights, the crowd," Andrew says. "It's a lot of pressure."
This year, Andrew's hometown fans will have a chance to witness that pressure firsthand. For the first time, the show will host a qualifying round in Minnesota. Filming will take place May 25–27 outside U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. It's free to watch, but you'll need a ticket. And if you go, plan to stay up late: taping starts at 8 p.m. and runs into the wee hours of the morning.
"It's awesome to see live if you can stay up all night," Andrew tells us. "You get to see the course all lit up and be part of the crowd." That crowd will include lots of other ninjas, Andrew says, including fan favorite Jake Murray. (No word if his fanny pack and corn dog will be there, too.)
Speaking of dogs: Andrew remains a loyal advocate for homeless pups, and he hopes his run will help him raise funds to care for them. "I decided to do a pledge-a-thon like in elementary school," he says. "I'm hoping people will pledge a dollar or two for each obstacle I complete, and that will give me a little extra motivation to complete more obstacles."
Sounds like a good strategy, though we're not sure he needs it.
"This old dog's got some new tricks," Andrew, 41, tells us. "I can still run with the young pups."
Need proof? Take a few minutes to watch Andrew tackle baseball hook jumps, a salmon ladder pyramid, and an endurance gauntlet. (There's a work-in-progress video, too.)