The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea officially begin with the opening ceremony on Friday night, February 8, launching two weeks of competition that will showcase the world’s best skaters, skiers, snowboarders, hockey players and more. But of course the most important question is, how well can they cha cha?
“Dancing with the Stars” returns on April 30 for its 26th season, but it will be an irregular competition in more ways than one. First, the season will last only 4 weeks, far shorter than the 10 to 12 weeks we usually get. Second, the season will consist entirely of athletes, which means the show will be well positioned to recruit some Olympians fresh off their glorious victories — or perhaps their tragic defeats. And this wouldn’t be the first time. Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White both competed on “DWTS” (season 18) immediately after winning gold medals in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi; Davis ended up winning the Mirror Ball Trophy. And as soon as the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro were over the show scooped up gymnast Laurie Hernandez and swimmer Ryan Lochte for season 23; Hernandez won that Mirror Ball Trophy.
So who among this year’s wide variety of winter athletes should compete? Ice skaters have proven successful before. In addition to Davis, Kristi Yamaguchi also won a Mirror Ball (season 6), while Evan Lysacek was a runner-up (season 10). One of the best hopes for a gold medal for American figures skaters this year is 18-year-old breakout Nathan Chen, famous for being the first man in the world to land five quadruple jumps in a single program. He is of relatively small stature at five-foot-six, but that didn’t stop Frankie Muniz from making the finals in season 25, and youth didn’t stop 23-year-old Jordan Fisher from winning the Mirror Ball trophy that season.
Or to borrow a page from the season 18 playbook, why not recruit a pair of ice dancers again? Maya Shibutani and Alex Shibutani would make for an interesting rivalry as they’re not only ice-dance partners, they’re also siblings.
Speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno also transitioned from the Winter Games to “Dancing with the Stars” and won the Mirror Ball Trophy in season four to go with his gold medals. So this year the show could recruit fellow speed skater Shani Davis, who in 2006 made history as the first black athlete ever to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics. Now he’s competing in his fourth Olympics. Also making history this year is Erin Jackson, who is the first African-American woman to qualify for the long-track speed skating team.
But maybe “DWTS” should move off the ice and into the snow. Skier Lindsey Vonn won a gold medal in 2010, and she’s making her comeback at the PyeongChang Games after having to drop out of the 2014 Olympics due to injury. Mikaela Shiffrin is also an Olympic champion, becoming history’s youngest slalom victor in 2014 when she was 18-years-old. Ted Ligety goes further back; like speed skater Davis he first competed in 2006 and is now at his fourth Olympics.
Gus Kenworthy made history in 2014 when he won a silver medal in the first ever freestyle slopestyle skiing competition at Olympics. He made more history after that when he came out as gay. Now he, figure skater Adam Rippon, and speed skater Brittany Bowe are the only openly gay athletes on Team USA in PyeongChang.
Perhaps “DWTS” should reach out to another sport that would be new to the ballroom: snowboarding. Shaun White is one of the world’s most famous athletes in that sport and is aiming for his third gold medal in Korea. Meanwhile Lindsey Jacobellis is aiming for her first gold medal in snowboard cross after winning silver back in 2006.
Which members of the US Olympic team do you think would make the best fit on “DWTS”? Vote in our poll below.