“Dancing with the Stars: Athletes” premieres: Rippon, Norman and Harding are standouts, snowboarder and baseball champ go home

ABC/Kelsey McNeal(LOS ANGELES) — Dancing with the Stars: Athletes premiered Monday night on ABC and because show is only on for four weeks, the eliminations started early: Two couples were sent home by the end of the night.

Viewers were able to vote live throughout the show, and after all the couples performed, their votes were combined with the judges’ scores.  Three couples were in jeopardy: Figure skater Tonya Harding and her partner Sasha Farber, gold medal snowboarder Jamie Anderson and her partner Artem Chigvintsev, and baseball star Johnny Damon and his partner Emma Slater. 

Tonya, who was a crowd favorite earlier in the night, was declared safe; Damon and Anderson were eliminated.

At the end of the night, two couples were tied for first place on the leaderboard with 24 points each: Figure skater Adam Rippon and his partner Jenna Johnson and NFL cornerback Josh Norman and his partner Sharna Burgess. 

Adam’s best friend, fellow figure skater Mirai Nagasu [muh-RYE nuh-GAH-soo] and her partner Alan Bersten were tied for second place with Tonya and Sasha; each had 23 points.

Here are the night’s dances and scores:

Olympic silver medalist luger Chris Mazdzer and partner Witney Carson kicked off the show with a salsa, and Chris immediately opened his shirt, showing off his bare chest.  Judge Len Goodman said he was “so impressed” with Chris, praising his “style and “confidence.”  Judge Carrie Ann Inaba said he had “so much potential” and “star quality.  Score: 21/30.

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who’s 7-foot-one-inches tall, danced with Lindsay Arnold, who’s five-foot-four.  Their cha cha basically consisted of Kareem raising his arms while the pros danced around him, which caused Carrie to remark, “You could get a little groovier.”  Judge Bruno Tonioli asked, “How can I possibly criticize a national treasure?”  and then proceeded to do just that.  Score: 17/30

Retired softball champ and Olympian Jennie Finch Daigle and partner Keo Motsepe danced a foxtrot, and Carrie called it “a joy to watch.” Bruno praised her “airy, breezy, fresh quality,” but said she needed to maintain control. Score: 21/30

Jamie Anderson and partner Artem Chigvintsev danced a Viennese waltz, and while Carrie Ann said Jamie had an elegance that she herself wasn’t aware of, Bruno criticized her for getting her feet “in a muddle,” and Len said the dance was a “little bit skippy.”  Score 19/30

Olympian Mirai Nagasu and partner Alan Bersten danced the salsa and it was a precise, energetic number with many elaborate lifts.   Len praised the dance’s “vim, vigor and vitality,” while Carrie Ann told Mirai, “You’re a boss!” Score: 23/30

DWTS’ first ever collegiate athlete, Notre Dame NCAA star Arike Ogunbowale and partner Gleb Savchenko, danced a salsa, though Arike refused to wear heels, and performed in sneakers.  Carrie Ann said she was really impressed, but urged Arike to wear heels next time.  Bruno said her dance made him want to join in.  Arike noted that she had to get on a plane and fly back to school, where she had to give a presentation in her Project Management class in the morning.  Score: 20/30

Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon performed a cha cha with his partner Jenna Johnson and it was so good, they both looked like pros.  Bruno called him his “angel of the ballroom, with the hip action of the devil,” while Carrie Ann proclaimed, “You were born to do this show!”  Score: 24/30

Johnny Damon and partner Emma Slater, who’s married to Tonya Harding’s partner Sasha Farber, did a foxtrot to, fittingly, John Fogerty’s hit “Centerfield.” Carrie Ann called Damon “adorable.”  Score: 18/30

Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber danced a foxtrot, and Alison Janney, who won an Oscar for playing Tonya’s horrible mother in the movie I, Tonya, was in the audience cheering her on.  Tonya was extremely emotional afterward, and got even more emotional after the judges gushed over her performance. “You are a beautiful dancer….you blew me away” said Carrie Ann.  Score: 23/30

NFL cornerback Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess did a cha cha that was full of style and fluidity.  Bruno praised his “star quality,” while Carrie Ann said he had an “x factor” and dubbed him “Fly guy of the night.” Score: 24/30.

Dancing with the Stars returns next Monday night on ABC.

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