After performing their individual routines during the “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes” semifinals, Olympic figure skating teammates and best friends Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu went head-to-head in a ballroom battle for extra points. It might have been the closest of the face-offs given how evenly matched the two competitors were, but while the battle was decided by a narrow margin, the outcomes couldn’t have been more different: Rippon won the pairing and then advanced to the finals with Tonya Harding and Josh Norman, while Nagasu was unexpectedly eliminated. Would those extra two points have made the difference for Nagasu if she had won the battle? Watch above and decide for yourself.
Rippon and Nagasu performed dueling jives, and the side-by-side routines were fast-paced and jam-packed with choreographic content, which is doubly impressive when you consider that it was one of two dances they had to learn in week three of the competition. Ultimately, judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli preferred Rippon’s performance, while Len Goodman and guest judge David Ross picked Nagasu. That meant the tie needed to be broken by viewers who voted in real time during the battle.
Unfortunately for Nagasu, Rippon had almost twice as much support from fans: he received 64% of the vote, compared to 36% for Nagasu. Perhaps that was also a sign that Nagasu had limited support from the “DWTS” audience overall, so when viewer votes and judges scores were tabulated to decide the three finalists, Nagasu ended up being eliminated despite consistently high scores during her three weeks of competition. Were you disappointed that Nagasu was ousted, or did the right three contestants advance? See what the judges had to say about this ballroom battle below, and vote in our poll at the bottom of this post to let us know who deserves to win the Mirror Ball Trophy.
Bruno Tonioli: “Olympians going for gold! Giving everything they had, full-on, full power, maximum effect. Both of you put an incredible amount of content into this. The quality was extraordinary. It comes down to taste and different style because I can’t really say that one was worse or better than the other. It comes down to what you felt you preferred because you were both excellent.”
Carrie Ann Inaba: “That was a showdown! … There was so much going on. It was so much fun. I would have paid top dollar to watch that again and again. Your technique, your performance — everything about it was fantastic. It was the hardest choice to make. The difference was one hair.”
David Ross: “People don’t understand how hard it is to learn one dance in a week. You guys are learning two in the second and third week … I’m so impressed. That was amazing. Kudos to both of you guys. It’s a very tough decision.”
Len Goodman: “I really loved both of you. One was full of razzmatazz, tricks and lots going on. The other one I found there was a clarity in the footwork, beautiful point, lovely leg action. This is a tough, tough decision.”
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