“I never thought somebody like me would be accepted, but I really feel loved. And that’s why I’m so excited for what we have in store,” said Adam Rippon, previewing his freestyle dance in the season finale of “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.” The routine was “different, quirky, fun and totally embodies me as a person. And I want to share that with America.” But the judges were more ambivalent about it. What did you think of his bold performance? Watch it above.
After Rippon’s rivals Tonya Harding and Josh Norman performed freestyle routines to perfect scores, the stage was set for Rippon to close out the night with a flawless dance of his own. But judge Carrie Ann Inaba felt like she was “missing something” from his routine and noted that he seemed to “blank out a little bit” during the choreography. And Len Goodman has always been a traditionalist, so the “old ballroom guy” also felt out of step with Rippon’s performance.
The routine didn’t get poor scores by any means. Inaba and Goodman gave him 9s, and Bruno Tonioli gave him a 10, which was enough to put him on top of the judges’ leaderboard for the fourth week in a row when it was combined with his perfect-scoring first-round jazz number. And Rippon ended up winning the Mirror Ball Trophy anyway, but it may have felt bittersweet for him to receive some of his toughest criticisms for his very last dance, especially one that was so personal for him.
Do you think the judges’ critiques were fair? Check out what the judges had to say below, and vote in our poll at the bottom of this post to let us know if you think Rippon truly deserved to win “DWTS” season 26.
Carrie Ann Inaba: “Your style was incredible. It was brave. It was definitely a choice. I can’t fault you for what you did, but I feel like I was missing something. You have led this competition with incredible dancing. This is all about being in sync together, and there were moments when I saw you blank out a little bit and watch Jenna, which I’ve never seen from you before. But you have been such an incredible performer, and I have enjoyed watching you every step of the way.”
Len Goodman: “What it lacked in convention it made up for in invention. It was so modern and to-the-point. Listen, I’m an old ballroom guy, so I always have problems with freestyles sometimes.”
Bruno Tonioli: “It was a high-style freestyle. It was a New York haute-couture show, and I’ll tell you one thing, even Anna Wintour would say, ‘Absolutely fabulous!'”