Did Tonya Harding redeem herself on “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes”? She’s the most controversial contestant of the season as the result of the 1994 attack on her figure skating rival (and season 24 “DWTS” contestant) Nancy Kerrigan, in which she was implicated. Harding was banned from the US Figure Skating Association as a result, but the 2017 film “I, Tonya” cast her in a more sympathetic light, and now she’s continuing her image rehabilitation on the ABC dance series. Though many fans may have mixed feelings about her presence in the competition, she impressed the judges with her foxtrot in the season premiere episode. Watch her routine with pro partner Sasha Farber above.
Allison Janney, who won an Oscar for playing Harding’s abusive mom in “I, Tonya,” was in the crowd to watch Harding’s performance to the Oscar winning song “When You Believe” from “The Prince of Egypt.” The dance earned her 8s from judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Len Goodman, but a 7 from Bruno Tonioli, who advised her to work on her “neck-shoulder placement.” That gave her a total of 23 out of 30, tied with fellow figure skater Mirai Nagasu for third place on the judges’ leaderboard behind Adam Rippon and Josh Norman, who tied for first place with 24 out of 30. Read what the judges had to say below, and scroll down to vote in our poll to let us know who you think gave the best performance of the night.
Carrie Ann Inaba: “I know that your journey to here has been a very emotional and challenging journey, but I have to judge your dancing. You are a beautiful dancer. You have something so powerful. Your lines are gorgeous. There’s an eloquence, a depth to your performance. The mind-body-music connection that you just displayed blew me away.”
Len Goodman: “I thought it was a charming dance. Beautiful fluid movement, a great mix of steps in hold and out of hold. You shouldn’t be weeping, you should be happy because that was a lovely performance.”
Bruno Tonioli: “I wasn’t expecting you to have such a lyrical quality to your movement. But just a tiny little thing because you are so good: your arms are good, but you’re losing the neck-shoulder placement. Especially in the overhead turns you jam. It’s the only thing I can point out that you have to work on.”
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.