We admittedly didn’t have high hopes for Tonya Harding going into the semifinals on “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.” She ranked fifth in our predictions for the Mirror Ball Trophy with 25/1 odds, and she was second in our elimination predictions with 5/1 odds in a night when three people were going to be sent home, so it looked like there was a good chance she would be one of them. But she surprised us by advancing to the finals along with fellow figure skater Adam Rippon and football star Josh Norman. And her week-three rumba undoubtedly helped. Watch it above.
The six semifinalists all performed routines in honor of the MVPs in their lives, and Harding picked her father, who died nine years ago. “When I lost my dad I lost my very best friend … When I was young my dad had to leave, but he never abandoned me … He was always there for me,” she said. “When everybody in the world was against me my dad was still in my corner no matter what.”
Harding was on the verge of tears at the beginning of her routine and also at the end. “I brought [my father] onto the dance floor to show everybody what real love is,” she explained before receiving her critiques from the judges, who gave her three 8s and a 9 from guest judge David Ross. See what they had to say below, and vote in our poll at the bottom of this post to let us know if you think she deserves to win the Mirror Ball Trophy.
Carrie Ann Inaba: “There’s no better way to pay tribute to someone you love than to dance with your heart like that. You danced with your heart open. There’s an authenticity to the way you dance that makes it have a gravitas that I love to watch. I think your dad is not alone when you say he was in your corner. I think we’re all in your corner now.”
David Ross: “People don’t know how hard it is to watch that kind of package and then get out here and do what you just did. That was very inspiring, very emotional. I’m very proud of you. That was awesome.”
Len Goodman: “I liked the light and shade. It wasn’t at one level. There was speed, then it stopped and went a little bit softer, and then into the dance again. You could have done with a bit more hip action. But the whole package was full of emotion and full of lovely dancing. Well done.”
Bruno Tonioli: “Very nice flow, great musicality. Your lines are getting better. And you’re starting to keep your shoulders down — still a little bit tensing at times, but so much better. Your underarm turns have improved. Good balance of motion and emotion. Well done.”
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