“Dancing with the Stars” is making history in season 27 with contestant Danelle Umstead, a Paralympian skiier who will be the show’s first visually-impaired contestant. Will she be able to win the Mirror Ball Trophy? Before the competition gets underway on September 24, let’s consider her pros and cons.
Dancing is such a demanding skill that any kind of physical limitation seems like it would be a deal-breaker, but not so. Double-amputees Amy Purdy (season 18) and Noah Galloway (season 20) were both finalists. Little person Terra Jole (season 23) made the top five. And deaf model Nyle DiMarco (season 22) actually won the Mirror Ball Trophy.
“DWTS” fans often rally around contestants with inspiring stories, whether they have overcome physical challenges like the above contestants, recovered from injuries like season 23 runner-up James Hinchcliffe, or committed acts of heroism like season 13 winner JR Martinez and season 21 finalist Alek Skarlatos.
As an elite skier, Umstead already has experience adapting her limited eyesight to a demanding sport. If she can make her way down a snowy ski slope and win Paralympic medals, then winning the Mirror Ball Trophy should be a snap.
Umstead is partnered with Artem Chigvintsev. He was a champion on “Strictly Come Dancing,” Britain’s version of “DWTS,” but he hasn’t had as much luck stateside. In his seven previous seasons on “DWTS,” his best results were sixth place with both Lea Thompson (season 19) and Nancy Kerrigan (season 24).
She doesn’t have the name recognition of some of her fellow contestants. So she will need to make a strong impression on the viewers and judges quickly since she’s basically building a “DWTS” fan base from scratch.
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