LOS ANGELES -- For the first time in its 26-season run, ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" features a cast of all professional athletes.
Dance fans can expect to see a shortened but nevertheless intense month of competition featuring these famous, and maybe even infamous, stars from the world of sports.
Because of the four-week schedule, we hit the ground running and the premiere night features not just first performances, but the first two eliminations!
Here's a rundown of the night's dances, with scores from highest to lowest:
Adam Rippon- 24 out of 30
Adam may seem to have been born to skate because of his Olympic medal, but he proves dancing may be a true hidden talent. He literally jumps for joy when he meets his partner Jenna Johnson and the connection is immediate. Adam later says "I'm no scientist, but the two have chemistry." They Cha-Cha to the song "Sissy That Walk" by RuPaul and the crowd goes wild. So do the judges. Len Goodman thought the routine was clear and crisp, if possibly a little too "vogue-y" for him. Bruno Tonioli called Adam the angel of the ballroom, with nice finished lines and lots of synchronicity with Jenna. Carrie Ann Inaba said he was born to do this show, and that the partners were a match made in dance heaven.
Josh Norman- 24 out of 30
The pro football player tells us he likes to intimidate his opponents on the football field, both mentally and physically. I think that's all talk for the ballroom because he seemed nothing but charming - and laser-focused! He wants to win. Sharna Burgess knows she has a winner on her hands and pushes him hard for week one. They start the Cha-Cha routine with Josh doing a standing jump OVER standing Sharna. Len called the routine bright and breezy, free and easy, with plenty of rhythm and style. Bruno said Josh has star quality, charisma and sex appeal by the truck load. Carrie Ann thinks he has that mysterious "X factor," plenty of finesse and engaged the crowd more than anyone else.
Mirai Nagasu- 23 out of 30
This Olympic medalist in skating is now, and has always been very goal oriented. She's also brutally honest. When her partner Alan Bersten said he watched her at the Olympics, she replied she's never seen him on DWTS. She brings a lot of youthful energy to the ballroom and shares that enthusiasm with her BFF, Adam Rippon, who is also competing. Mirai said as much as she wants to win the mirror ball, she'd be just as thrilled to see Adam take it home. Len thought their Salsa routine was filled with vim, vigor and vitality, although there were a few too many lifts and tricks for his taste. Bruno praised those same lifts and thought she had a lot of attack, and Carrie Ann called her a "boss."
Tonya Harding- 23 out of 30
Skater, skater, skater! Tonya brings a lot of emotion to the ballroom and wears her heart on her sleeve. She also knows she brings a lot of baggage and you get the feeling she just wants people to give her a chance. Tonya says she wants people to see that she deserves to be here, and she doesn't want to fail again. Sasha Farber is her partner and they learn an elegant Foxtrot for week one. Len said it was charming and fluid and lovely. Bruno told her she had a lyrical quality of movement, and Carrie Ann praised her powerful mind-body-music connection.
Chris Mazdzer- 21 out of 30
The Olympic silver medalist in the luge revealed that after a lifetime of competition, this is the first time he's being judged for scores! (The luge is judged by time). His partner is former champ Witney Carson and she seems duly impressed during their rehearsals. She's especially thrilled at his ability to point his toes! (Another technique used by luge racers). The two do a Salsa to a Ricky Martin and Pitbull song and it's a great way to break the ice on a new season. Len liked his style and confidence. Bruno called it an exciting first dance, but cautioned Chris to pay attention to his arm movements, and Carrie Ann waved her glittery pom-pom on this sports-themed show and thinks that Chris has plenty of potential and star quality.
Jennie Finch Daigle- 21 out of 30
Jennie won just about every championship you could in softball, but retired several years ago to raise her three kids on an idyllic ranch in Louisiana. The thought of being competitive again seemed to stir something and she's ready to tackle this new "diamond." Keo Motsepe is her partner, and their first dance is a lovely, flowing Foxtrot. Carrie Ann called her a joy to watch and could tell she's a good student but told Jennie to rely on Keo a little bit more. Len let her know she got a tough dance and he saw elements in it that were good. Bruno likes Jennie's airy, breezy quality but told her she still needs to control her movements. He told her she's holding on to a dance partner, not a horse by the reins.
Arike Ogunbowale- 20 out of 30
The Notre Dame Student athlete is the first collegian to do the show. Arike was the hero of her basketball team not once but twice at the playoffs this past season. Gleb Savchenko met her on the court and tried to shoot some hoops. She told him to stick to dancing. Arike's major concern is wearing high heels. She just doesn't play that game. Gleb can't break her, and she ends up performing the Salsa in sneakers. Carrie Ann likes that Arike is comfortable in her own skin, and that makes the audience feel comfortable watching her. Bruno agreed that her personality draws people in. Len asked for a little more hip action.
Jamie Anderson- 19 out of 30
Like Chris, Jamie's sport keeps her solo in the spotlight. The two-time Olympic snowboarding champ has to learn how to rely on her partner, Artem Chigvintsev. She admits she loves competition because that keeps her present. Jamie is also assigned an elegant dance, the Viennese Waltz. Carrie Ann was firm with Jamie and told her she is much more elegant than she's giving herself credit for and that she's judging herself too harshly. Len thought the dance was uneven but still well done.
Johnny Damon- 18 out of 30
Johnny's spending his time as a full-time dad and left his baseball life behind. He fully admits to having no dance experience but also says he does not embarrass easily so he's going to go for it. Emma Slater teaches him a fun Foxtrot to John Fogerty's "Centerfield" and the crowd is engaged. Carrie Ann calls him adorable and likeable, and Bruno said while the routine wasn't always smooth the basics were there and he would get better.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar- 17 out of 30
This biggest living legend to ever grace the ballroom has everyone thrilled to be in all of his 7-foot-1 presence. (And for the record Lindsay Arnold is 5 feet 4 inches). The Los Angeles Laker great is also the oldest competitor this season, but he's not letting that deter him from trying this new challenge. Lindsay choreographs a very simple Cha-Cha that used the troupe members and lots of shiny costumes to the maximum effect. Maybe for distraction? Bruno said he could not criticize a national treasure like Kareem, and thought the dance was simple and dignified. Carrie Ann felt entertained but wanted the basketball star to get a little "groovier." Len gave him a 10 for admiration, but advised Kareem to loosen up a bit.
For the first time ever, DWTS eliminated two couples on the first night of competition. Sadly, we here on the West Coast don't get to vote. The East and Central time zones, along with the judges, determined the results.
In jeopardy for week one: Jamie and Alan, Johnny and Emma, and Tonya and Sasha.
Tonya ended up being the only one safe to dance for week two!
The All-Athletes edition returns next Monday night on ABC.
'Dancing with the Stars' begins its All-Athletes season with double elimination
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