ST. GEORGE — After being the only contestant from Southern Utah to make it past the “American Ninja Warrior” Seattle/Tacoma area qualifier at the end of June, Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center ICU nurse Madyson Blake Howard went on to compete in the city finals round and is now advancing to the national finals in Las Vegas.
The popular television program, now in its 11th season, features competitors trying to navigate a series of physically challenging obstacles within a time limit. Howard previously told St. George News that the city finals were actually filmed the very next day after the region qualifier, but at that point, she wasn’t allowed to say how she did in the finals until that episode aired, which was Monday.
Howard graduated from Southern Utah University in December 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. While a student at SUU, she competed for the university’s gymnastics team.
Having excelled in gymnastics during her college career, Howard told St. George News she missed training and competing at that level after moving to St. George.
“I had been done with gymnastics for about a year and a half, and I was just kind of bored, like I was missing competing and not having a way to work out with friends,” she said.
Besides her stint on “American Ninja Warrior,” Howard competes in the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association and has participated in local, regional and world events. She recently placed first in the female amateur division in world competition against athletes from the United States, Canada and Australia.
In regards to her successes at “American Ninja Warrior,” she said her gymnastics experience helped prepare her for the competition.
“I feel like competing as a gymnast prepared me for the nerves that come with competing on a big stage and helped me stay in the moment before I stepped on the course,” she said.
Dixie Regional sent out a press release Tuesday congratulating Howard on her “great run on the American Ninja Warrior Course.”
Howard has worked at Dixie Regional for two years and enjoys working with – and serving – the patients that come into the ICU each day.
“I love working in intensive care,” Howard said in the press release. “It can seem intimidating at first, but I love that I have two patients and can get to know them really well and get a full picture on them. I just like being able to take care of them and their families and have a more personal connection.”
Howard credits her ICU experiences as another aspect of her life that helped prepare her for the ninja course.
“Being an ICU nurse has moments of intensity and moments when you need to make split-second decisions,” she said.
I feel like being able to stay in the moment in both situations really helps. Taking the time when you’re in high pressure situations before you start so you know that you’re making the right decisions. Another thing that has helped me is being prepared knowing that I have the knowledge that I need as an ICU nurse and I have the team behind me to help take care of my patients. That translates to the course because I know that I have put in the training mentally and physically so I can perform well.
Howard said she is grateful for the challenge that “American Ninja Warrior” presents. It has given her chances to achieve her goals and opportunities to apply her ICU skills in other ways.
“Working in the ICU, I have seen how fragile life is and how things can change in a split second,” she said. “If anything, that has helped motivate me to chase dreams and live life to the fullest. I want to take advantage of all those moments because you never know what could happen.”
According to the “American Ninja Warrior” website, there are only two more episodes of city finals similar to Monday night’s show. The national finals will be aired over four different episodes, starting Aug. 26.
St. George News reporter Jeff Richards contributed to this report.
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