According to our early “Dancing with the Stars” racetrack odds for its special athletes-only 26th season, Adam Rippon is the man to beat. The 28-year-old figure skater is coming off of an Olympic Games where he won a bronze medal in the figure skating team event with his American teammates (including his “DWTS” rival Mirai Nagasu). His career has also included a 2010 Four Continents championship and a 2016 US nationals championship. Will he add a Mirror Ball Trophy to his list of accomplishments?
Figure skaters are an especially good fit for “DWTS” as they come to the dance floor with plenty of advanced physical training and experience with choreography, music and performing for a live audience. And of course they know what it takes to please a panel of judges. That undoubtedly helped two past figure skaters win the show: Kristi Yamaguchi (season 6) and Meryl Davis (season 18).
Rippon has already developed a fan base thanks to his performances on the ice at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, as well as his lively interviews off the ice. Having that built-in audience connection is especially important this season as there will only be four weeks of competition and thus less time for viewers voting at home to get to know the contestants.
Though figure skaters have a competitive edge on “DWTS,” that has historically been more true for women than for men. While two female skaters have won the Mirror Ball Trophy, the two male skaters who competed on the show didn’t. Evan Lysacek finished second in season 10, while Meryl Davis’s ice dancing partner Charlie White finished fifth in season 18. So Rippon will need to watch out for his “DWTS” competitors Nagasu and Tonya Harding.
With three figure skaters in the running for the Mirror Ball Trophy this year, is it possible that fans of the sport who tune into “DWTS” will be divided? Vote-splitting could be a concern for all three of them.
Rippon is partnered with pro dancer Jenna Johnson, who doesn’t have much of an established track record yet on “DWTS.” The only other time she competed on the show as a pro was season 23 with children’s TV actor Jake T. Austin, who was the first celeb eliminated.
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