The Hourglass Drop is an obstacle, firstly introduced on American Ninja Warrior 7, serving as the fifth obstacle in Venice Beach. It was essentially a redesign of the Unstable Bridge, with a mini trampoline in the middle of the boards. It is arguably one of the hardest obstacles in American Ninja Warrior history.
Competitors must traverse through an hourglass-shaped board. Then, they must drop onto a mini trampoline, and if they had enough power from the mini trampoline, they would grab the second board, which was a wavy-shaped board and looked like an 'S'. Both boards were supported by a metal structure (one at each end), which would force the board to lop-side to either left or right (similar to the Unstable Bridge's second board).
During Venice Beach qualifiers, it was proven to be a very difficult obstacle, as competitors not only found it hard to get bounce from the mini trampoline, but were even disqualified for not grabbing the second board or grabbing the support structure. It had been able to eliminate 29 out of 36 competitors who attemped it, including David Campbell, Brian Kretsch (due to injury from the Tilting Table), Jessie Graff, Dustin Rocho, and Travis Weinand. The 7 competitors who could complete the obstacle, later became the only finishers, setting a record for the lowest amount of finishers during city qualifiers in American Ninja Warrior history.
The Hourglass Drop still became a hard obstacle during Venice Beach finals, as among the 23 competitors who attempted the obstacle, only 10 of them could complete it. The 5 competitors who failed on this obstacle, were able to reach it fast enough and earn the spot in Las Vegas national finals. This became only the second time, competitors who didn't reach the back half of the city finals course (i.e. the obstacles after the Warped Wall), still advanced to Las Vegas national finals, with the others being during Northeast region finals on American Ninja Warrior 4, and the third one would be during Kansas City finals on American Ninja Warrior 9 (one competitor only).
Several top competitors who failed on this obstacle during Venice Beach qualifiers (e.g. David Campbell, Dustin Rocho, Ben Melick, and Jessie Graff) were able to complete it during Venice Beach finals. However, in an ironic twist, Alan Connealy (who completed this obstacle during Venice Beach qualifiers) failed on this obstacle during Venice Beach finals, and his failure made him finished in 16th place, i.e. one spot short from Las Vegas national finals.
The Hourglass Drop made its second appearance on American Ninja Warrior 8, as the eighth obstacle during Indianapolis finals. However, the trampoline was placed before both boards. Therefore, competitors had to drop from a waiting bar after the Salmon Ladder, and landed on the mini trampoline, attempted to grab the first board, and then transferred to the second board, in a similar fashion to the Unstable Bridge, and then make a dismount to the landing platform to advance. Naturally, the difficulty in this version of the Hourglass Drop came from the drop to the trampoline and the transition from the first board to the second board. The drop was higher than the Hourglass Drop in Venice Beach (at 11 feet), which could create higher force for competitors to bounce.
The Hourglass Drop was still the toughest obstacle during Indianapolis finals, taking out several competitors like Matt Wilder, Andrew Yori, Tyler Yamauchi, and Dan Banura, but a total of 8 competitors could get past it (including Meagan Martin, Brian Arnold, Ian Dory, and Jake Murray). With 8 out of 16 competitors being able to complete it, the Hourglass Drop during American Ninja Warrior 8's Indianapolis finals had a decent 50% knockout rate (so far, the highest completion rate).
Later on that season, a modified version of this obstacle (called as the Wave Runner) appeared as the third obstacle in Stage Two, immediately after the Down Up Salmon Ladder and replacing the Unstable Bridge from the past four American Ninja Warrior seasons, except there was no trampoline and the second board was replaced with the pyramid-shaped one.
The Hourglass Drop returned on American Ninja Warrior 9 during San Antonio finals, once again as the eighth obstacle, with the similar specification from Indianapolis finals (except with the addition of one waiting bar after the Salmon Ladder, for a total of two waiting bars, and the boards were shorter).
It was proven to be just as deadly as ever, taking out 18 out of 24 competitors who attempted it, including Barclay Stockett, Tremayne Dortch, Brandon Pannell, Jonathan Horton, Josh Salinas, Nate Burkhalter, and Abel Gonzalez. Only 6 competitors could complete the obstacle during San Antonio finals, including Daniel Gil, Brent Steffensen, and Nicholas Coolridge (who also completed the original version of the Hourglass Drop during American Ninja Warrior 7's Venice Beach qualifiers and finals), and had a decent 75% knockout rate (the second highest after American Ninja Warrior 7's Venice Beach qualifiers).
A unique and risky completion of this obstacle occurred during San Antonio finals, when Thomas Stillings made an early dismount by skipping the second board entirely, and was allowed to continue his run (unlike on the Wave Runner, where competitors would be disqualified if they skipped the second board entirely, as was shown during Flip Rodriguez's run on American Ninja Warrior 8). Although Stillings almost lost his balance at the dismount, he was able to hang on and save himself.
Competitors' Success Rate
- All results based on the NBC broadcast and external information found