Chris Mazdzer became the first American man to win an Olympic medal in singles luge at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, but there might have been almost as much pressure on him having to dance first in the season premiere of “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.” But he handled the pressure as well as anyone could have asked him too, and his pro partner Witney Carson kept her promise to get him shirtless on the dance floor during their salsa … well, shirt open at least.
Mazdzer’s performance didn’t put him at the top of the judges’ leaderboard. Instead he received straight 7s from for a total of 21 out of 30. That placed him 5th out of 10 dancers, tied with softball player Jennie Finch Daigle. It’s often dangerous to be in the middle of the pack — fans may get complacent and not vote, leading to shocking eliminations — but the judges recognized Mazdzer’s “potential” and “star quality,” and viewers must have also appreciated his charm. However, the show is already down to eight contestants, so he can’t rest on his laurels.
Read what the judges had to say about Mazdzer’s performance below, and scroll down to vote in our poll to let us know which contestant gave the best performance in week one of “DWTS” season 26.
Len Goodman: “Chris, that is the first time I’ve seen you vertical. I’ve only ever seen you lying on your back sliding down a hill on a tray. I’ve got to tell you, I was so impressed with you. You came out, had plenty going on, and I thought you had style, you had confidence. There was one little scary bit when you kept looking over, but the rest of it I thought was terrific. Well done.”
Bruno Tonioli: “You definitely broke the ice nicely with that one … The king of luge gets into the groove, very nicely indeed. You had very good action, very good rhythm, but a couple of things: don’t let your free arm go loose and floppy, keep tension through that. And keep aware of your weight. If your weight is too far back your hip action becomes a bit square. But as a first dance, very exciting, very good.”
Carrie Ann Inaba: “You are incredible. The choreography was jam-packed. You did not take it easy on him at all, Witney, which I appreciate because there are only four weeks and you have to put your best foot forward every time. I think you have so much potential. You have star quality: great movement, great rhythm, great shimmy-shoulders, great chest — but I’m not judging the chest, I’m judging the dance.”
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