“I don’t know a lot about cha cha, but I’m really happy to take it on,” said Skai Jackson when preparing for her routine on “Top 11” night. Those proved to be fateful words: she performed to Doja Cat and Nicki Minaj‘s remix of “Say So,” and for the second time this season she lost her balance, which was even more noticeable because she otherwise has such strong technique. At this stage of the competition, was it too big a mistake for her to recover from? Watch it above, and see what the judges had to say about it below.
Derek Hough: “First of all, it happens to the best of us. It’s live, … but I just have to commend you for carrying on. We saw there was a mess-up there. Things happen. And you know what, it’s okay. It happens to all of us. We’ve all been there. It’s all a part of the highs and the lows, this whole journey. It’s all good, honey. But listen, that opening split, I was like, whoa girl! And the cha cha, the moments you had were very sharp, staccato, proper cha cha action, so there were really great moments in there.”
Bruno Tonioli: “First, let me say, I’m loving that K-pop look, so hot and so now and so cheeky. But he’s right, you know. Accidents happen. The sections that you did well were actually much better than in Latin dances in the past. But there were a lot of mistakes. The choreography was very complicated. You handled it as best you could.”
Carrie Ann Inaba: “I’m really proud of you. It is not easy to find your way back from that. You kind of really lost it in the middle there, and you actually came back stronger than ever. What you performed was one of your better dances because you looked so relaxed, because what is there to lose at that point, right? You are amazing. For the recovery, I would give you a 10, but obviously there was a bit that didn’t quite make it through. But I do want to commend you for the drag that a lot of people lift their foot off the ground — that foot was on the ground.”
Those comments translated to straight 6s for a total of 18 out of 30 on the leaderboard, which is extremely low at this stage of the season, even for a routine with noticeable mistakes. I do think the judges were harder on her with those scores than they needed to be as it put her on the bottom of the leaderboard by a significant margin. The next lowest scorer was Vernon Davis with 21 out of 30.
So this proved to be the first major test of Jackson’s fan base, and luckily for her they did not disappoint. She wasn’t in the bottom two at all. After viewer votes were counted it was the next two lowest scorers who dropped to the bottom: Davis and Johnny Weir. The judges split on who to send home: Inaba voted to save Davis, but Hough and Tonioli decided to rescue Weir, so Davis was eliminated. And it means that Jackson has enough audience support that if she can clean up those routines from here on out, she’s still a real contender for the Mirror Ball Trophy.
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