Dancing with the Stars aired its first-ever athletes edition last night. Unlike previous runs, Season 26 eliminated two couples on the premiere.
Fans were invited to participate in the elimination process. By heading to the show’s Live Vote website, viewers could choose their favorite couples up to 10 times. Votes submitted by fans were combined with the judges’ scores out of a possible 30 points. The bottom two pairs were eliminated.
Snowboarder Jamie Anderson and retired baseball player Johnny Damon were the first to get the boot.
Anderson was partnered with Artem Chigvintsev, and the duo earned a 19 from judges. Damon was paired with Emma Slater, and they received an 18.
Early predictions pegged Tonya Harding and partner Sasha Farber as the first to exit, according to odds from SportsBettingDime.com. After receiving a 23, the couple stood among the night’s highest scores. “You are a beautiful dancer,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba said of Harding. “You have something so powerful…[you] blew me away.”
Still, Harding and Farber were placed in jeopardy of leaving the show. “I want people to see that I deserve to be here,” Harding, 47, said through tears. “I don’t want to fail again.” Harding was supported in the audience by actress Allison Janney, who won an Academy Award in March for portraying the former skater's mother in the biopic I, Tonya.
The lowest judges score, at 17, was handed to former basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his partner Lindsay Arnold Monday. Abdul-Jabbar, 71, said he joined the show to “connect and show you all my lighter side’.”
Season 26 returns May 7th with eight couples in the running, including figure skaters Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu.
The scores last night:
Adam Rippon & Jenna Johnson
Josh Norman & Sharna Burgess
Mirai Nagasu & Alan Bersten
Tonya Harding & Sasha Farber
Chris Mazdzer & Witney Carson
Jennie Finch Daigle & Keo Motsepe
Arike Ogunbowale & Gleb Savchenko
Jamie Anderson & Artem Chigvintsev
Johnny Damon & Emma Slater
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Lindsay Arnold
Olympian Adam Rippon was definitely in his zone, wowing the judges
I thought for sure Kareem was going to be eliminated...but he wasn't! At 71 he's the oldest athlete competing.