Going into the season premiere of “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes,” figure skaters Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon were the two contestants to beat, according to the predictions of Gold Derby users who had been making their picks ever since the cast was announced. Nagasu and Rippon have been friends for years and won Olympic bronze medals together during the figure skating team event at the 2018 Winter Olympics. But going head-to-head on their first night as opponents, Rippon got the better of Nagasu by the narrowest of margins. Watch Nagasu’s dance with her pro partner Alan Bersten above.
Rippon got straight 8s from the judges for a total of 24 out of 30 (tied with Josh Norman for the lead). Nagasu was right behind him with a score of 23 (tied with fellow figure skater Tonya Harding). That’s because Carrie Ann Inaba gave Nagasu a 7 instead of an 8, and she advised the eager dancer to contain some of her unbridled energy for a smoother performance, though she still felt Nagasu did a “great job.”
So round one is over. Will Nagasu overtake her BFF in round two next week? See what the judges had to say about her performance below. And scroll down to vote in our poll so you can let us know who you thought gave the best performance on premiere night.
Bruno Tonioli: “That was a spicy, crispy cracker of a salsa. All those lifts and those tricks, where do they come from? … You did them very well. It’s very hard to land and maintain the rhythm. That’s the hardest thing to do — you did it. The armography was very good. You had a lot of attack — now, be careful because if you over-attack it, sometimes it becomes a little bit crispy and you lose the softness of the hips.”
Carrie Ann Inaba: “You’re a boss out there. You owned that dance in so many ways. But we only have four weeks of competition. Everything matters, so I’m going to give you constructive criticism. Watch your head-bopping because you’re indicating the music way too much. You don’t need to do that. You need to be a little bit calmer, a little bit more one with the dance. You were on top of the dance — you’re really eager, and I love the fire, but bring it in because I want you to be more centered in the dance … but great job.”
Len Goodman: “It was full of vim, vigor and vitality. The lifts were great. I could say there were a few too many tricks. However, I can’t because I thought the dance was so terrific. Well done.”
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