Olympic ice skater Adam Rippon may have to rely on his charisma and his killer sense of humor to make it through the first week of Dancing with the Stars: Athletes. The competition is going to be even more cutthroat than usual, thanks to the shortened season of the ABC reality series requiring weekly double eliminations to quickly whittle the number of couples down. Unfortunately, this doesn’t give Rippon much time to learn how to dance, and it sounds like he’s having a tough time picking up the new skill.
Many Dancing with the Stars fans have come to expect professional ice skaters to do well on the show, thanks to the past victories of Kristi Yamaguchi and Meryl Davis. Speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno even took home a Mirrorball Trophy during Season 4. However, according to 28-year-old Adam Rippon, being able to glide across frozen water on a thin blade doesn’t always translate to being a talented dancer. The Olympic bronze medalist recently told Entertainment Tonight that he doesn’t know how to dance. Rippon usually oozes self-confidence, but he admitted that learning a ballroom routine is more difficult than he thought it would be.
“I thought I was going to go in and know all the steps, [but] I don’t know any of them,” Rippon said.
His pro partner, Jenna Johnson, jumped in to reassure him that he does actually know some steps, but she admitted that Rippon is not a natural on the dance floor. She confirmed that he can’t dance, but she’s not giving up on him just yet.
“We have a lot of work to do,” she said. “We had a lot of work to do.”
Adam Rippon explained that Dancing with the Stars has been a challenge for him because he’s never worked with a partner before. He also pointed out that he has always performed in ice skates, but these tools that he relies on to help him move around so effortlessly have been “taken away” from him for DWTS. However, what the skater lacks in natural dancing ability, he’s making up for in ambition and theatrics. Rippon is eager to start doing lifts, even though Johnson won’t let him try any just yet, and he promised that his first performance will have plenty of pizzazz.
“Bells, whistles, glitter,” Rippon said of his first dance. “We will bring drama. And then I will wear bells and whistles.”
GoldDerby recently pointed out that the live voting format of Dancing with the Stars: Athletes may benefit competitors who already have built-in fan followings. Adam Rippon’s sharp wit and outgoing personality made him a fan favorite during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, so perhaps he won’t have to worry about being sent home too early in the competition.
Rippon said that one aspect of performing on Dancing with the Stars that isn’t making him nervous is wearing a new elaborate costume for each performance. He’s promised that his outfits won’t disappoint, so maybe viewers will keep voting for him week after week just to see what he wears.
Dancing with the Stars: Athletes premieres Monday, April 30, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.