Mirai Nagasu’s quickstep was ‘fantastic’ on ‘Dancing with the Stars: Athletes,’ but was she doomed by the judges’ nitpicking? [WATCH]

Figure skater Mirai Nagasu had the unenviable task of dancing first in the “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes” semifinals. Not only did she have to make a lasting first impression on viewers, she also had to be pristine for judges who tend to be more conservative with their early scores in case a later dance blows them away. So while the judges thought her performance was “fantastic,” they also nitpicked a number of details that left her in third place on the leaderboard, and she was surprisingly eliminated at the end of the evening with Jennie Finch Daigle and Chris Mazdzer. Did all those little criticisms doom her?

The “DWTS” semifinalists performed their routines in honor of the MVPs in their lives, and Nagasu chose her mother. “With my mom’s motivation, I don’t think I would be here,” said the Olympian. “I became a figure skater because of my mom. She was always the one who drove me to the rink and took me to school, while my dad took care of the restaurant … When I put my Olympic medal around my mom we all just started crying because it’s something that we all did together.”

Nagasu ended up scoring three 9s and an 8 from Len Goodman, who thought she lost a little bit of her posture. Bruno Tonioli thought she lost her top line, and Carrie Ann Inaba thought she didn’t have enough awareness of her surrounding dancers.

David Ross: “You are a boss. That was impressive! I love the quickstep, it was one of my favorite dances. You killed that. Your mom’s love empowered you and it showed tonight. That was awesome.”

Len Goodman: “You didn’t mess about. You came out with all guns blazing — full-on attacking the dance. This is the fight for the finals, and you mean business. If I were to critique it a little bit, as the dance went on you slightly lost your posture … It started to get a little bit too vertical. However, coming out first, well done.”

Bruno Tonioli: “It was like watching a firefly in full flight. You did some fantastic runs … into a wonderful jete with perfect timing. I loved that. I loved the energy. I loved the visual impact. Now we’re getting towards the finale — I hope you make it because you deserve it, but it’s all down to the details. You lost a little bit of your top line — It’s down to these little things that will make you the champion.”

Carrie Ann Inaba: “You were fantastic. Last week, this week — you’re on a roll, you’re definitely in your zone. But Bruno is right: if you’re here next week you have to be on your A-plus game. When you danced in a group you were not paying attention to everybody. You were in the front, but you have to have an awareness of what’s going on all around you. It’s the slightest little thing, but other than that it was fantastic.”

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