‘Dancing with the Stars: Athletes’: Did Jamie Anderson & Johnny Damon deserve to be eliminated first?

Gold Derby users were blindsided Monday night in the season premiere of “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.” We were predicting that basketball players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Arike Ogunbowale were the likeliest two to be sent home in the unprecedented opening-night double-elimination. But both ballers survived. Instead, the combination of judges’ scores and viewer votes spelled doom for snowboarder Jamie Anderson and baseball player Johnny Damon. Did they really deserve their fates? Vote in our poll at the bottom of this post.

“Viennese waltz is like freshly fallen snow. It’s smooth. This was a little bit skippy on occasion, especially once you got in hold” said judge Len Goodman about Anderson’s routine with her pro partner Artem Chigvintsev. But he thought she had “elegance” and “personality.” Bruno Tonioli thought she “started very well. It was like watching Elsa unfrozen in front of our eyes. But then you hit a slippery patch, and you got your feet in a muddle.” And Carrie Ann Inaba told her, “You’re way more elegant than I think you think you are. There’s a beauty that comes out of you naturally.” Alas, she won’t be able to show that beauty again on the show.

As for Damon, as the second baseball player ever to appear on the show he won’t get to repeat the success of his predecessor David Ross, who surprised by making it all the way to second place in season 24. Tonioli didn’t think it went smoothly, but credited him for performing a “very demanding” foxtrot. Inaba thought he was “adorable” and she admired his enthusiasm, but he had problems in hold with his partner Emma Slater. Goodman is a traditionalist, so he didn’t like the parts of the dance that weren’t in hold. But he also didn’t like the parts that were in hold because Damon struggled so much in that position.

But neither Anderson nor Damon were the lowest scoring performer of the night. Anderson received a total of 19 points out of 30 from the judges. Damon received 18. And at the bottom was Abdul-Jabbar with 17. He seemed to struggle the most on the dance floor with his height and his limited range of motion. But fans responded to his partnership with pro partner Lindsay Arnold enough to keep them around another week.

What did you think of the elimination? Did Anderson and Damon have it coming? Or did one or both of them deserve to stay? Vote below.

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.

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