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NBC's 'American Ninja Warrior Junior' will feature Metro Detroit students

Emilie Thibodeau and Claire Vachon
Emilie Thibodeau and Claire Vachon


Two Walled Lake students will appear on the inaugural season of the youth version of NBC’s Emmy-nominated competition series American Ninja Warrior.

Emilie Thibodeau, a freshman at Walled Lake Western High School, and Claire Vachon, a 7th grade student at Clifford Smart Middle School, were selected out of 10,000 applicants from across the country to compete against other ninjas their age.

“Ninja Claire Bear” and Emilie the “Princess Ninja” are friends and have trained together for three years at the Edge Training Center in Commerce Township. Both girls are one of 64 kids selected to showcase their ninja skills in each age bracket. Claire will compete in the 11-12 year old age bracket while Emilie will go up against other ninjas in the 13-14 age bracket.

Claire often trains with her dad, Steve, who is her hero and despite many health issues has found a way to remain healthy and strong. Claire said “This was the best experience of my life, and nothing will ever top it. My dream came true to be like a real ninja, and I feel like my confidence is way up.”

Emilie also states that the show has been an amazing experience which has allowed her to meet many new ninja friends nationwide. “My nickname is the “Ninja Princess” because I want girls to know that they can do anything they put their mind to. We can be athletic and strong and still put on makeup and a dress.”

The first of 20 American Ninja Warrior Junior episodes will begin airing on the Universal Kids Channel at 7 p.m. on Oct. 13. The show is hosted by Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila and guest host Olympic gold medalist gymnast Laurie Hernandez. The series will feature kid-sized versions of iconic American Ninja Warrior obstacles including Sonic Swing, Tic Toc, Spin Cycle and the Warped Wall.