Figure Skaters Dominate ‘DWTS’; Damon, Anderson eliminated

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 4:51 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 2, 2018 4:51 PM UTC

Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu and a surprised Tonya Harding finish at the top on the first night of ABC's all-athlete “Dancing with the Stars.” Who's the betting favorite now? 

Barring an injury or some sort of alien charm extraction, figure skater Adam Rippon should win the all-athlete edition of “Dancing with the Stars.”

He and partner Jenna Johnson outdanced everyone, executing a near-perfect landing at the top of the leader board in Monday's first round. His best friend and fellow Olympian figure skater Mirai Nagasu was tied for second place with All-Pro Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. And in the first-ever elimination on the series premiere, World Series winner Johnny Damon and Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Jamie Anderson were sent home.

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My pick to win it all on Dancing with the Stars! @DancingABC #DWTS #Nostradancemus pic.twitter.com/Kx4cxZFLcv

— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 1, 2018
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Damon emerged from an onstage field of corn and danced a bouncy foxtrot fittingly to “Centerfield” by John Fogerty. He was promptly sent back into the corn for striking out. Anderson, who admitted being intimidated from the get-go, started her Viennese waltz strong and got lost in the footwork at the end. With this season’s unforgiving pace, there was no time for the medalist to recover.

And though the Bovada odds were not in their favor, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and two-time Olympian Tonya Harding survived their first night on the ABC’s reality show.

Jabbar, looking like a golden idol in sequined suit, seemed to lumber rather than be limber in his cha-cha. Harding, who danced a foxtrot with partner Sasha Farber, looked nervous and then elated after receiving rousing applause from the audience, which included Oscar winner Allison Janney who played Harding’s mom in the movie “I, Tonya.” “I feel like a princess,” she exclaimed.

The leader board and updated Bovada odds:

  • Adam Rippon, Olympic bronze medal-winning figure skater; score: 24; odds: +170. The big-on-personality figure skater lived up to expectations dancing a fierce cha-cha that was chockful of synchronicity and chemistry causing one judge to remark: “You were born to be on this show.”

  • Mirai Nagasu, Olympic bronze medal-winning figure skater; score 23; odds: +290.

With partner Alan Bersten, her salsa seemed to resemble an Olympic pair figure skating routine with multiple lifts and flips. The judges were impressed but cautioned she needed less “tricks” and a more centered dance next week.

  • Josh Norman, cornerback for Washington Redskins, score: 24; odds: +450. Another football player who has moves off the field danced an energetic cha-cha and literally jumped over partner Sharna Burgess.

  • Tonya Harding, retired Olympic figure skater; score: 23; odds: +1200. Harding powered through her foxtrot and looked overjoyed – and a bit winded – at the end of her performance.

  • Chris Mazdzer, Gold medal winning Olympic luger; score: 21; odds: +500. His shirt was ripped open in under 5 seconds of hitting the dance floor for his salsa, which was criticized for being a bit boxy by enamored judge Bruno Tonioli.

  • Jennie Finch Daigle, former Olympic softball gold medalist; score: 21; odds: +800. The softballer seemingly had a death grip on partner Keo Motsepe through most of her foxtrot and was told if she loosened up she had potential to move up in the competition.

  • Arike Ogunbowale, Notre Dame basketball player; score: 20; odds: +1000. The Irish women's star nixed high heels and danced her salsa in tennis shoes. Judge Len Goodman said she needed more hip action before she took the red-eye back to Indiana to make a morning class.

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; retired Los Angeles Laker; score 17; odds: +1800. Age, height and a general wobble will eventually tumble the much-respected Laker legend. Judge Carrie Anne Inaba told him he needed to be “groovier.”

There will be another double elimination next week in this accelerated season of “Dancing with the Stars”, which airs Mondays on ABC.

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