Levi Meeuwenberg (リーヴァイ・ミューエンバーグ) is an American permaculture homestead owner and former professional freerunner, stuntman, and SASUKE competitor. He is perhaps the most legendary American competitor in SASUKE.
Meeuwenberg debuted in SASUKE 20 and wore #1989. He was the #1 qualifier for the second American Ninja Challenge competition. He was able to clear the First Stage with 16.01 seconds left on the clock, placing him with only two other people to clear it. In the Second Stage, he had a bit of trouble in the Wall Lifting as his foot got stuck under the wall, injuring his foot, but he would still finish with 38.54 seconds remaining, which was a Second Stage record for most time remaining on the clock. He was the only competitor to complete the Second Stage. In the Third Stage, he became fatigued on the Shin-Cliffhanger and did not complete the transition to the third ledge.
Levi was given an automatic bid for SASUKE 21 due to his performance in SASUKE 20. He wore #99, which would be his career's highest starting position. He filled his First Stage run with various parkour and freerunning tricks (which have been criticized as showboating) and still completed it with over 21 seconds left. On the Second Stage, he struggled and failed on the sixth rung on the Salmon Ladder. In his interview, he said: "I don't know if it was my technique or something, but it definitely felt different." Indeed, the obstacle had been modified with the addition of caps at the ends to keep the bar on the Stick Slider, which made it heavier.
His third attempt was in SASUKE 22, where he received another automatic bid. There, he again showed great speed, even doing a side flip before the Jumping Spider. However, when he got to the new Slider Jump, the bar was off center, and when trying to correct this, his hand hit the rails of the Slider Jump and he was only able to get one hand on the net before failing.
Meeuwenberg had to earn a spot for SASUKE 23 and placed second among the Americans in the American Ninja Warrior competition. He would once again fly through the course. Despite a slip on the Jyunidantobi, he was able to get his revenge on the Slider Jump and even threw in some parkour tricks before the Jumping Spider and Tarzan Rope, clearing the First Stage with 29.20 seconds left, a First Stage speed record. In the Second Stage, he went on to clear the Salmon Ladder that took him out in SASUKE 21 and cleared the Second Stage with the fastest time. However, in the Third Stage, while getting himself up to the slanted ledge on the Cliffhanger (which he had built a replica of at home), he did not leave enough space for both of his hands, and slipped into the water, ending his run. He is the only person to fail this same Cliffhanger twice.
SASUKE 25 Debacle
Some strange circumstances surrounded Meeuwenberg in SASUKE 25 similar to those of Yamada Katsumi's run in SASUKE 12. In the lottery, he drew #39. After starting the new first obstacle, the Dome Steps, he slipped and balanced himself by using his hands for support, resulting in disqualification. Meeuwenberg protested, stating that he was not told that using his hands was illegal. He was granted a second First Stage attempt, which in itself isn't unusual. Strangely, however, he was given a new bib, #48, which had originally been drawn by 3-D sculptor and SASUKE veteran Aoki Yasuo. In the list of competitors aired before the Second Stage, Aoki was listed as #39. Furthermore, Aoki was not broadcast, but it is known he failed the Dome Steps.
After the dust settled, Meeuwenberg again claimed the fastest time in the First Stage, 19.16 seconds remaining. In the Second Stage, he failed the first obstacle, the Slider Drop, not knowing the drop in the track could result in failure.
Further Tournament Conflicts and Retirement
Levi then earned a spot in SASUKE 26 through American Ninja Warrior 2, but due to an injury, he was forced to withdraw from the competition and ended up giving his spot to Adam Laplante. Though he wasn't able to compete in that tournament, Meeuwenberg was still invited to come along to support his fellow U.S. qualifiers.
Levi did compete in American Ninja Warrior 4. However, he failed the Quad Steps at the very beginning. It was clear he was very tired as he had flown in from the Philippines hours beforehand and tried to rush.
Levi has not competed in any form of SASUKE since. He has stopped parkour and stunts as a profession and has now built his own sustainable homestead in his hometown of Ann Arbor Michigan. However, he has said that he still looks back fondly on his parkour and SASUKE days and has found it useful in various ways on his farm.
Jump City Seattle
In 2011, the TV station G4 aired a parkour and freerunning competition show called Jump City Seattle. The show featured 4 parkour teams: Tempest Freerunning, Miami Freerunning, Tribe, and Team Rogue. Levi was forced out of the competition after injuring his left wrist after falling from an elevated bar during practice. Later, it was revealed by a medic that he fractured his wrist and would be out for the rest of the show. Although commonly cited as the injury that kept him out of SASUKE 26, this was a separate injury.
- In every tournament Meeuwenberg participated, he would have the fastest finish in the First and Second Stage of that tournament.
- Meeuwenberg achieved the fastest finish in the Shin-SASUKE First Stage, as he completed the stage with 29.20 seconds remaining in SASUKE 23.
- Meeuwenberg also achieved the fastest finish in the Second Stage, as he completed the stage with 38.54 seconds remaining in SASUKE 20.
- Meeuwenberg is the only competitor to fail the Shin-Cliffhanger more than once (SASUKE 20 and SASUKE 23).
- Meeuwenberg is the first full-time American to be the Last Man Standing.
- With Meeuwenberg receiving number 99 in SASUKE 21, it would eventually be the highest number given to an American in SASUKE history.
- Nicknamed "Skynative", Meeuwenberg was a member of the Los Angeles-based freerunning team Tempest Freerunning and represented them during his time on Jump City: Seattle, along with Brian Orosco, Caine Sinclair, and Paul Darnell.
- Meeuwenberg has done stunts in several movies and shows, including Chuck (2007), NCIS: Los Angeles (2011), and The Bourne Legacy (2012).
|20||1989||Failed Shin-Cliffhanger (Third Stage)||Transition to third ledge. Last man standing. Set the Second Stage time record.|
|21||99||Failed Salmon Ladder (Second Stage)||Sixth rung.|
|22||91||Failed Slider Jump (First Stage)|
|23||95||Failed Shin-Cliffhanger (Third Stage)||Transition to second ledge.|
|25||48||Failed Slider Drop (Second Stage)||Failed Drop.|