Tonya Harding almost gets eliminated on the DWTS premiere of ATHLETES

posted by Mark Robertson -

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

24

Josh Norman & Sharna Burgess

24

Mirai Nagasu & Alan Bersten

23

Tonya Harding & Sasha Farber

23

Chris Mazdzer & Witney Carson

21

Jennie Finch Daigle & Keo Motsepe

21

Arike Ogunbowale & Gleb Savchenko

20

Jamie Anderson & Artem Chigvintsev

19

Johnny Damon & Emma Slater

18

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Lindsay Arnold

17

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.

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