Contest Will Be Fierce in All-Athlete ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Monday, April 30, 2018 6:51 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 30, 2018 6:51 PM UTC

Ten premier and some not-so-premier athletes begin tonight in their quest for the Mirror Ball trophy on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." 

The new cast of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” is all athletes – Olympic medalists, a World Series inner, a NCAA buzzer-beating women's champion and an NBA legend.

Athletes in their prime always have been frontrunners on the dancing reality show and the upcoming season has a full roster, but Bovada favors Olympic ice skaters Adam Rippon and partner Jenna Johnson (+200), and Mirai Nagasu and partner Alan Bersten (+300).

The artistry of their sport translates gracefully to the dance floor, proven by past mirror ball winners and Olympic champions Kristi Yamaguchi and Meryl Davis. Oddsmakers also think highly of Olympic luger Chris Mazdzer (+400), partnered with Witney Carson, who is used to going 80 mph on his back is equally as good on his feet doing a quickstep.

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The only focus is winning. #DWTS: Athletes premieres tonight, LIVE at 8|7c on ABC!

— Dancing with the Stars (@DancingABC) April 30, 2018

Those who will struggle and exit early: NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (+2500) and former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding (+1600). Abdul-Jabbar has a few things working against him: his age (71), his height (7-foot-2) and the fact his partner Lindsay Arnold is only 5-foot-6. Those dance lessons he said he’s taken in the past will not be enough to make him a winner.

During the cast announcement, Harding cited her own obstacles – her countenance and her feet. Despite the Oscar nominated movie “I, Tonya,” the first woman to hit a triple-axel in Olympic figure skating competition also will be fighting public perception that she played a role in the attack on her then-Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan. She is partnered with Sasha Farber.

Also competing:

  • Former MLB star Johnny Damon and Emma Slater (+1000)
  • NFL cornerback Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess (+600)
  • Olympic softball player Jennie Finch Daigle and Keo Motsepe (+1000)
  • Olympic snowboarder Jamie Anderson and Artem Chigvintsev (+1000)
  • Notre Dame basketball player Arike Ogunbowale and Gleb Savchenko (+1000)

Many athletes have won “DWTS”: including three-time Super Bowl winner and former Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith, Olympic gold-medal speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, Olympic gold medal gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Laurie Hernandez, and two-time Super Bowl winner Hines Ward.

The new season airs Mondays on ABC. It will be an accelerated season – only four weeks – with double eliminations each week.

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