According to Gold Derby’s users who made their predictions in advance of the season premiere of “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes,” Adam Rippon was the front-runner to win the Mirror Ball Trophy. So there was a lot of pressure on him to live up to expectations. But he’s accustomed to pressure. “I am the first openly gay American winter Olympian,” he said in the clip package preceding his cha cha with pro partner Jenna Johnson. But he delivered three clean performances at those games and helped his team win a bronze medal in the figure skating team event.
And it was kismet when he and Johnson met for the first time. “I could throw up I’m so excited,” he said before Johnson revealed herself. “I feel really good about this,” he told her when they were introduced. “You know why I feel good about this? Because when you jumped I could lift you.” And Johnson also felt the connection: “I felt like we had known each other for years.” After their performance Rippon told host Tom Bergeron, “I’m not a scientist, but we’ve got chemistry.”
That chemistry — and their dancing, of course — resulted in straight 8s from the judges for a total of 24 out of 30, which tied them with Josh Norman as the top dancers of the night. See what the judges had to say about Rippon and Johnson below, and vote in our poll at the bottom of this post to let us know if you thought they really had the winning routine.
Len Goodman: “I think that was good. It was sharp, it was crisp, it was clear. A couple of funny voguey moments, but I don’t mind that because the whole thing was full of cha cha content. I really enjoyed watching it. Well done!”
Bruno Tonioli: “The angel of the ballroom with the hip action of a devil — everything I like! This guy could strike a pose, or seven. I’m telling you what is amazing is the finish of your line and the synchronicity with your partner. On week one to achieve that level is quite extraordinary. Well done.”
Carrie Ann Inaba: “You were born to do this show … That was fantastic. So polished, so precise — well done! You guys are a match made in heaven.”
Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Monday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.