For the first time “Dancing With the Stars” features an all-athlete cast including Olympic medalists, retired and current professional athletes and even the first collegiate athlete to ever appear on the show. With the competition at an all-time high, which athletes rose to the occasion and which ones failed to make the cut in the season premiere episode on Monday night. We’ve heard what the judges had to say. Below are my rankings from week one of “Dancing With the Stars: Athletes”.
1. Adam Rippon & Jenna Johnson – Cha Cha (Score: 24/30)
Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon is known for his over-the-top, fun personality. That was on full display with his energetic cha cha. I thought the routine was full of cha cha content and entertaining, and it really brought the house down. Adam and Jenna’s chemistry is off the charts, especially for week one. After Monday night I think Adam is the one to beat.
2. Mirai Nagasu & Alan Bersten – Salsa (Score: 23/40)
After earning a medal with Adam Rippon at this year’s Winter Olympics Mirai let it be known that she had her sights set on appearing on “Dancing With the Stars.” Overall, I thought her and her partner Alan Bersten’s salsa proved that she’s not one to mess with. Their routine included a lot of salsa content mixed with some impressive lifts and tricks, and I thought Mirai, for the most part, owned the dance. My only criticism is that she needs to be more present in the dance and less focused on hitting every move. Right now I think she’s a strong contender to knock Adam down as the front-runner.
3. Josh Norman & Sharna Burgess – Cha Cha (Score: 24/30)
Bruno Mars + NFL football player = “DWTS” touchdown! Current NFL cornerback Josh Norman possessed the swagger and showmanship needed to pull off a Bruno Mars song like “Finesse.” Although there were a few moment when I felt some of his movements were a bit sloppy, I thought his personality made up for that. He fits the mold of past Mirror Ball champions from the world of football: Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward, Donald Driver and Rashad Jennings. So watch out for Josh as a potential spoiler this season.
4. Tonya Harding & Sasha Farber – Foxtrot (Score: 23/30)
Often there’s one contestant with a checkered past who hopes that “DWTS” will help change the public’s opinion of them. Tonya Harding — a former champion figure skater and the subject of the Oscar-winning film ‘I Tonya’ — got her moment to redeem herself 24 years after she was disgraced due to the attack on her figure-skating rival Nancy Kerrigan. Her foxtrot with partner Sasha Farber had a lyrical and graceful feeling that one wouldn’t necessarily expect from Tonya. It was great to see her be vulnerable and become one with Sasha and the dance. I hope that this journey helps her find peace with her troubled past.
5. Chris Mazdzer & Witney Carson – Cha Cha (Score: 21/30)
Olympic luger Chris Mazder started the night off with a fun yet simple cha cha. He has lots of potential. I can see him going far in this competition providing that he continues to grow each week. I’m curious to see how his journey on the show will go.
6. Jennie Finch Daigle & Keo Motsepe – Foxtrot (Score: 21/30)
Since retiring from professional softball in 2010 Jennie Finch Daigle has been adjusting to her role as a stay-at-home mom, so she’s viewing “Dancing With the Stars” as a way to get back her competitive spirit. Jennie proved that she has a great sense of how her body moves with her foxtrot, which was light and had some fluid movements. My only concern for her is that she might run the risk of getting lost in the shuffle, especially with this cast full of big personalities. Hopefully her partner Keo Motsepe will be able to bring a killer performance out of her.
7. Arike Ogunbowale & Gleb Savchenko – Salsa (Score: 20/30)
College basketball player Arike Ogunbowale had the biggest disadvantage of the contestants. She’s arguably the least recognizable, and due to NCAA rules she was unable to do press and promotion leading up to the show. However, neither of those factors seemed to have any impact considering she was able to escape elimination in week one. Basketball players have been known to be a bit stiff when appearing on “DWTS,” but I thought Arike showed some personality and rhythm throughout her salsa. I hope that she continues to challenge herself, especially when it comes to wearing heels, which she avoided in week one in favor of sneakers. Who knows, she may surprise us all next week and kill it.
8. Johnny Damon & Emma Slater – Foxtrot (Score: 18/30)
Retired MLB star Johnny Damon became the second professional baseball player to appear on “Dancing With the Stars,” following season 24 runner-up David Ross. Unfortunately for Damon, he was unable to capture the audience’s hearts like David did, and he was eliminated at the end of the night. Although his foxtrot was fun, it lacked the technique for him to really stand out. But had this been any other season without a double elimination on the first night, I think Johnny could have stayed on a lot longer.
9. Jamie Anderson & Artem Chigvintsev – Viennese Waltz (19/30)
Professional snowboarder Jamie Anderson got dealt a bad hand on Monday night. She had the unfortunate luck of dancing the Viennese waltz, which isn’t a flashy or entertaining dance style like the salsa or cha cha, so her routine wasn’t as memorable as her competitors’. Despite that, I felt that she handled the dance much better than I anticipated. But it wasn’t enough for her to stay in the competition as she was eliminated right along with Johnny.
10. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Lindsay Arnold – Cha Cha (18/30)
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar proved that height and age are nothing but numbers. Granted, his cha cha was never going to be at the level of Adam or Josh’s. But what’s great about “Dancing With the Stars” is that sometimes the audiences love to rally behind those contestants who go out there and give a great effort. Kareem could be the contestant who viewers rally behind to overrule the judge’s scores. It will be interesting to see how far that will take him.
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.