‘Dancing with the Stars: Athletes’ recap: Who survived the team dances & two more eliminations at halfway point of season 26? [UPDATING LIVE]

The second episode of “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes” aired on Monday night, May 7, and we’re already at the halfway point of this special shortened season featuring only sports stars. The top eight were narrowed down to the top six at the end of the evening, so which celebs made the cut, and which were cut from the roster? Scroll down for our live blog with minute-by-minute updates as they happen.

SEE ‘Dancing with the Stars: Athletes’ – You have till Tuesday evening to vote for your favorite on ‘DWTS’ week two

Snowboarder Jamie Anderson and baseball player Johnny Damon were ousted in week one, leaving eight athletes in contention for the Mirror Ball Trophy: figure skaters Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu and Tonya Harding; softball player Jennie Finch Daigle; football star Josh Norman; luger Chris Mazdzer; and basketball players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Arike Ogunbowale. Those eight competitors had double the workload in their second week in the ballroom, having to learn two new dances instead of one: an individual dance with their pro partners, and a team dance with three other couples. Normally the contestants spend several weeks getting used to the dance floor before having to learn multiple routines, but this accelerated season is much less forgiving, These elite sportsmen and sportswomen had to keep up or else be left behind.

Mazdzer, Norman, Abdul-Jabbar and Harding made up “Team 1950s Tennis,” who danced to “Baby One More Time” by The Baseballs. They had their work cut out for them going head-to-head against Rippon, Nagasu, Finch Daigle and Ogunbowale on “Team 1970s Football,” who showed off their fancy footwork to “Instant Replay” by Dan Hartman. Find out how that face-off ended below. All times listed are Eastern.

Jeffrey Kare, 7:57pm — It’s almost showtime!

Cordell Martin, 7:58pm — Here we go! Hopefully Arike can channel her inner Beyonce!

Daniel Montgomery, 8:01pm — I want Adam Rippon’s suit in my wardrobe immediately.

Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess
Paso doble (“The Plaza of Execution” by James Horner)

DM, 8:03pm — The last shall be first, Josh Norman is up first in what may now be the new pimp slot. Going first could be an advantage this season more than going last. I have high hopes for a Josh Norman paso doble.

JUDGES — Guest judge Rashad Jennings (Mirror Ball champ from season 24) says, “I’m proud of you. You did a great job.” Len Goodman adds it was “full of aggression” and “full of attack.” Bruno Tonioli says it’s like “Erik Killmonger going for total domination … The sculptural shapes were great.” Carrie Ann Inaba concludes, “You were very grounded and very effective,” but he needs to use his arms more.

DM, 8:09pm — Sometimes Josh felt a little too stiff with that, other times a little too wild.

CM, 8:09pm — Yeah I can see that. He did have the character of the dance down.

JK, 8:09pm — I thought he did a pretty good job.

CM, 8:10pm — Hmm maybe two 8s and two 7s?

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Rashad (7), Len (8), Bruno (8) = 30 out of 40

DM, 8:11pm — Wow, Carrie Ann and the guest judge actually gave LOWER scores than Len and Bruno. How often does that happen?

CM, 8:12pm — Oh Jennie Finch getting the dramatic edit for her clip package.

DM, 8:13pm — Yeah, it did look like there was some conflict there in the preview they showed of what’s to come. That doesn’t bode well since she might be on the bubble when it comes to fan support.

Jennie Finch Daigle and Keo Motsepe
Cha cha (“Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monae)

DM, 8:15pm — “I’m struggling with my song choice. It’s a little too risque,” says Finch Daigle in her clip package during training week. “Holy crap,” says her partner Keo Motsepe. So they ended up changing the song and the choreography. That’s risky. That doesn’t even consider how she had to learn a team dance too.

JUDGES — Len says, “Well done. I thought it was a very competent performance … I liked the crispness of it. It lacked a bit of rhythm.” Bruno says she looks like “Catwoman,” but her hand positions were off and so was her timing. Carrie Ann adds, “I applaud you for choosing what felt right for you … but that is also what held you back … There was a lack of connection to the music.” Rashad thinks she “knocked it out of the park.”

DM, 8:21pm — That routine was totally … fine. No huge mistakes, but nothing showstopping either.

JK, 8:22pm — They seemed to have done better this week.

CM, 8:22pm — I agree that it was middle of the road. Two 7’s and two 6’s?

SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Rashad (7), Len (7), Bruno (6) = 26 out of 40

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lindsay Arnold
Salsa (“La Malanga” by Eddie Palmieri)

DM, 8:28pm — Kareem’s clip package focuses on his history and his family. It’s very sweet and I think will endear him to audience voters. Lindsay wants Kareem to channel his father and his love for dancing. “I hope he’s looking down and smiling,” says Kareem.

JUDGES — Bruno thought it was “clever” and “well constructed. It really took you to the time and place.” Carrie Ann called it a “lovely tribute … That was your best dance so far.” Rashad says, “You can stand taller today because I know your father is looking down on you proud.” Len thought it had more content than last week’s routine and captured the spirit of the salsa.

DM, 8:34pm — There wasn’t a whole lot of dancing in that routine, but it was so charming I couldn’t help but like it. He’s such a good sport. So charming how they played with the height difference.

JK, 8:35pm — I agree.

CM, 8:35pm — Okay Kareem, I loved it.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Rashad (7), Len (6), Bruno (6) = 26 out of 40

DM, 8:36pm — Sam exact score as Jennie, not a good sign for her since I think he had a warmer clip package and a sentimental backstory.

Chris Mazdzer and Witney Carson
Waltz (“Next to Me” by Imagine Dragons)

DM, 8:41pm — “I’m kind of all over the place,” says Chris, who reveals that he was diagnosed at as young age with ADHD, which helps Witney “be a better coach.” Another very sweet and sympathetic clip package. I wonder why they made Jennie come off so negatively.

DM, 8:44pm — A little rough around the edges, but probably my favorite routine so far. He’d be a contender to win in a longer season.

JK, 8:46pm — Yeah, I thought Chris was very competent this week.

JUDGES — “Wow,” says Carrie Ann. “That was outstanding. You had all the nuances.” Rashad says, “Hats off to you,” and he showed body control. Len didn’t like the spin move towards the end, but he “admired” Chris’s “sway” while he was in hold. Bruno concludes, “You are the leading man, a waltzing heartthrob … You were fluid. You used the space very well,” and he greatly improved his arm movements, “sustaining your lines beautifully.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Rashad (8), Len (8), Bruno (8) = 33 out of 40

DM, 8:48pm — I thought he did a great job, but Carrie Ann got a little carried away with that 9.

CM, 8:49pm — I agree.

Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber
Quickstep (“Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson)

DM, 8:54pm — “It felt like stepping out on Olympic ice one more time,” says Tonya in her clip package. Last week we saw the show aggressively push her redemption narrative. This week with “Redneck Woman” they’re trying to emphasize her underdog appeal. She feels “alive again” and “gets one more chance” to show America what she’s got.

JUDGES — Rashad “absolutely loved it … You are showing a new chapter of your life.” Len says, “I liked the routine. I liked the energy … This dance made me feel good.” Bruno says, “For a split second I got a bit worried … but it was great fun … You didn’t lose the timing. Your frame is better.” Carrie Ann adds, “What I noticed the most was your strength …. There’s a poignancy to when you dance.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (8), Rashad (9), Len (8), Bruno (8) = 33 out of 40

DM, 9:01pm — That was an excellent performance, Her facial expressions were a bit overly broad, but she really embraced the character of the dance.

CM, 9:01pm — She really did.

JK, 9:02pm — Very energetic and amusing!

DM, 9:03pm — And the poor troupe dancer sweating in that bear suit deserves a bonus.

Mirai Nagasu and Alan Bersten
Foxtrot (“It’s a Small World” by The O’Neill Brothers Group)

DM, 9:05pm — “We can do better,” says Mirai about her scores from week-one. She feels insecure about receiving a 7 instead of all 8s. Her competitiveness and perfectionism is getting the better of her. But pro partner Alan Bersten cheered her up with a Disney-themed dance.

JUDGES — “You were sprinkled with a little bit of Disney magic. For me, best dance so far,” says Len. Bruno adds that she’s “the embodiment of a fairy-tale princess.” Carrie Ann says, “That was gorgeous … You had the Disney force with you tonight.” And Rashad thought it was “a great dance, great choreography. It was graceful it was peaceful.”

CM, 9:11pm — Oh Mirai, beautiful.

JK, 9:11pm — I thought that was just excellent!

DM, 9:11pm — That was dynamite, best of the night so far, and improved from last week I think when there were so many tricks.

CM, 9:11pm — But that package won’t do her any favors.

DM, 9:12pm — Yeah, that package didn’t make her look that good, but her scores will compensate this week. I could see all 9s.

CM, 9:12pm — Me too.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Rashad (10), Len (9), Bruno (9) = 37 out of 40.

DM, 9:13pm — Wow, first 10 of the season. I guess I’m not that surprised since guest judges are always more generous.

Arike Ogunbowale and Gleb Savchenko
Foxtrot (“What About Us” by Pink)

DM, 9:18pm — Moment of truth … the high heels are on! “I love challenges. I’m an athlete,” says Arike about the unfamiliar footwear. “We’re equal to men,” says Arike, taking a feminist inspiration from the Pink song she’s dancing to.

JUDGES — “Your poise and posture were much better,” says Bruno. Carrie Ann adds, “I was crying … There is something so powerful in you being vulnerable … You touched us all.” Rashad thought her performance was “beautiful.” Len thought she did “fantastic footwork … Terrific, well done.”

CM, 9:23pm — My girl came through.

JK, 9:23pm — That was terrific!

DM, 9:24pm — Good choreography, lovely flow in her movements, but I felt like there could have been even more dancing from Arike. I thought she had more in her. But a big step up this week.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (8), Rashad (9), Len (8), Bruno (8) = 33 out of 40

JK, 9:25pm — Once again, one of the judges ups the score by one point.

DM, 9:26pm — Kind of amazing that Josh has one of the lowest scores tonight when last week he was on top. Having the competition be this good with Arike and Chris improving so much from week to week makes me wish even more that this were a full-length season.

CM, 9:28pm — Who do you guys think is going home?

JK, 9:28pm — Jennie.

DM, 9:28pm — Jennie and probably Kareem. Tonya and Arike needed a buffer in their scores and I think they got enough to keep them around.

Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson
Quickstep (“Make Way” by Aloe Blacc)

DM, 9:29pm — Adam Rippon has got some tough acts to follow. “I am definitely having a hard time with this one,” says Adam about dancing the quickstep during his clip package during training week. He’s also struggling with his schedule since he’s balancing “DWTS” with “Stars on Ice.”

JUDGES — Carrie Ann says, “You better work! … Everything is exactly in sync with you.” Rashad thought it was “absolutely stunning,” and he loves their chemistry. Len added, “So much content, so much speed, but so much clarity of movement.” Bruno concludes, “Absolutely fantastic dancing all the way through. Your timing is impeccable, and your partner work is outstanding.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Rashad (9), Len (9), Bruno (10) = 37 out of 40

JK, 9:34pm — Adam Rippon has got some tough acts to follow..

DM, 9:35pm — Good work by Adam, but I’d give this round to Mirai.

JK, 9:35pm — Now, Adam and Mirai are both tied for the night.

DM, 9:36pm — And guaranteed to stay that way since they’re on the same team. I agreed with the 9s. I thought the 10 was a bit much. I’m with Carrie Ann when she said he’s got potential to be even better than that.

DM, 9:38pm — But again, I want to steal Adam’s suit so badly. I’d wear it literally everywhere.

Team 1950s Tennis (“… Baby One More Time” by The Baseballs)
Chris Mazdzer and Witney Carson
Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lindsay Arnold
Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber

DM, 9:40pm — “You’re going down, Team Football!” says Lindsay as they prepare for their group routine. But Josh is out of town, and Tonya rolled her ankle. Kareem is feeling “a little bit out of sorts” and is worried he’ll “screw this up.” Fingers crossed.

JUDGES — “It was not quite a 10 in this routine,” says Len, but it was “well done.” Bruno adds, “I’m not sure you’re going to make the final in the US Open … That was witty, imaginative, creative.” Carrie Ann “applauds” them, but she points out they were a little out of sync. Rashad “had a great time. Nobody out-shined. You all worked together.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (8), Rashad (9), Len (8), Bruno (8) = 33 out of 40

DM, 9:46pm — That was a little all over the place, but fun.

JK, 9:46pm — That whole routine was alright, though it did get better in the end. I also liked the ’50s spin on “Hit Me Baby One More Time.”

CM, 9:47pm — I agree.

DM, 9:48pm — That song did play well for that routine. “Baby One More Time” is a surprisingly strong piece of songwriting when you consider how well it could be adapted to a completely different style.

Team 1970s Football (“Instant Replay” by Dan Hartman)
Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson
Arike Ogunbowale and Gleb Savchenko
Jennie Finch Daigle and Keo Motsepe
Mirai Nagasu and Alan Bersten

DM, 9:51pm — Rehearsing is tough because Arike literally has to get back to class, and “‘Dancing with the Stars’ ate my homework” probably doesn’t go over well with most professors.

JUDGES — Bruno says, “I love it! It’s Monday night fever on ‘Dancing with the Stars’! … You threw everything you had and every trick into it.” Carrie Ann added, “It just kept getting better and better.” Rashad thought it was “absolutely entertaining.” And Len “liked the disco” with “a little bit of hustle.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Rashad (10), Len (9), Bruno (9) = 37 out of 40

DM, 9:58pm — I thought it was great fun and especially great during the group portion. The individual moments were a little meh but the group chemistry made up for it.


1st couple in jeopardy: Kareem and Lindsay

2nd couple in jeopardy: Chris and Witney

3rd couple in jeopardy: Arike and Gleb.

DM, 9:59pm — Wow, Jennie survived!

The safe couple is … Chris and Witney, which means Kareem and Arike are both eliminated.

CM, 10:00pm — I’m pissed.

JK, 10:01pm — I thought it was great fun and especially great during the group portion. The individual moments were a little meh but the group chemistry made up for it.

DM, 10:02pm — With Jennie surviving, we should never underestimate the power of a more conservative fan base.

Judges’ Leaderboard:

1. Mirai Nagasu — 37 + 37 = 74
1. Adam Rippon — 37 + 37 = 74
3. Arike Ogunbowale — 33 + 37 = 70 (ELIMINATED)
4. Tonya Harding — 33 + 33 = 66
4. Chris Mazdzer — 33 + 33 = 66
6. Jennie Finch Daigle — 26 + 37 = 63
6. Josh Norman — 30 + 33 = 63
8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — 26 + 33 = 59 (ELIMINATED)

Final Predictions Contest Results:

Which star will be eliminated? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Arike Ogunbowale

Who will receive the judges’ HIGHEST score? Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu

Who will receive the judges’ LOWEST score? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

How many 10s will the judges give out? 1 to 4 (3 to be exact)

Which judge will give the MOST points? Carrie Ann, Len, AND Bruno (80 each)

Which judge will give the FEWEST points? Carrie Ann, Len, AND Bruno (80 each)

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.

More News from GoldDerby