The "finals stage" Los Vegas episodes that started running this week are much different than the preliminary regionals stages.
In the preliminary stages contestants were competing against each other and bumped each other out of contention.
For the Los Vegas episodes they are starting over again on Stage1. They are using actual obstacle blue prints from Sauske.
Contestants are running against the clock, not against each other.
It is very possible that not a single person will get to the top of Stage4.
They have not announced "who gets the $500,000" if no one gets to the top of Stage4. Longtime Sauske fans would expect the prize to not be given, but this this is the USA it is likely they will give it to "the person who goes the furthest the fastest". In the Japanese version there have only been 3 winners in the 27 previous events (events are usually run twice a year).
Normally there is a limited "American Ninja Warrior" competition and the 2-4 winners get sponsored by G4 to go to Japan and participate in the actual tournament. The reason why we are getting such a large event this year (3-4 eps for each of the 6 regions and 6+ episodes for the finals, all hour long) might be due to the company that produces Sauske (Monster 9, who also produce Kunoichi, Ultimate Banzuke, and Muscle Musical) filed for bankruptcy Nov 2011. It seems that this postponed Sauske 28 so in the interim Tokyo Broadcasting System decided to work with NBC to run this event in USA.
The regionals suffered from massive redundancy because you had everyone run a version of stage1, then the top 30 would run a slightly longer version of stage1. This led to seeing the same competitor profiles multiple times in back-to-back episodes and seeing the same people run mostly the same obstacles over and over for almost 20 hours/episodes.
But now that they are on the Vegas episodes, running off of a course built using Sauske blueprints, and running against the clock instead of against each other, I am happy to watch all these profile vids one last time since this is pretty close to actual Sauske.