The new season of Dancing with the Stars has more than one common theme. In addition to its all-athletes format, the 26th edition of ABC’s celebrity ballroom competition features a whopping seven pro dancers who have never won a mirrorball trophy.
A quick recap of the past 25 Dancing with the Stars winner’s circles reveals a long list of Houghs and Chmerkovskiy wins, with the occasional Burke and Ballas thrown in. But Dancing with the Stars: Athletes won’t feature longtime super pros Derek Hough, the brothers Chmerkovskiy, or two-time champs Mark Ballas or Cheryl Burke, paving the way for the possibility for a long-overdue pro dancer to finally nab a mirrorball.
Of the 10 Dancing with the Stars: Athletes pro dancers, only Witney Carson, Emma Slater, and Lindsay Arnold have previously won the show. That means that Artem Chigvintsev, Keo Motsepe, Sasha Farber, Alan Bersten, Sharna Burgess, Gleb Savchenko, and Jenna Johnson all have a chance to score their first-ever mirrorball trophy.
Two-time runner-up Sharna Burgess has competed on 10 seasons of Dancing with the Stars, landing just shy of the mirrorball trophy twice, with partners Nick Carter and James Hinchcliffe. In an interview with Glamour, Sharna admitted she was sad to lose out to Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough during Nick Carter’s season, but she said nothing compares to the lifelong connection and friendships made on Dancing with the Stars. This season she’ll try again with NFL cornerback Josh Norman.
Gleb Savchenko, who has competed on five previous seasons of Dancing with the Stars with celebrity partners that included Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump and Pretty Little Liars star Sasha Pieterse, recently told Entertainment Tonight he is ready to win. Ahead of the cast announcement, Gleb said his dream partner would be someone young (that wish came true when he was paired with 21-year-old University of Notre Dame basketball player Arike Ogunbowale) and “just someone really who wants to win.”
“I need a mirrorball,” Savchenko said.
And Keo Motsepe, who has competed on six past seasons of Dancing with the Stars, is also on board for his first mirrorball trophy in his six-year history with the show. Keo told Closer Weekly his partner, Jennie Finch, is determined to give it her all in their quest to win the coveted Dancing with the Stars mirrorball trophy, revealing that the softball star is willing to rehearse more than five straight hours to make sure they get their moves just right. After being one of the first pro dancers eliminated in nearly all of his past DWTS seasons, Keo may have finally found his key to the show’s winner’s circle.
Of course, even with all of these deserving DWTS pros ready to win, the show’s missing pro dancers won’t be forgotten this season. DWTS: Athletes competitor Adam Rippon told Entertainment Weekly he has been looking to two-time DWTS champion Val Chmerkovskiy for some inspiration.
Rippon, who is paired with Val’s girlfriend, Jenna Johnson, this season, told ET, “Watching Val dance has been really helpful. I’ll pull up videos and see how he dances. I’m going to be channeling him the entire competition.”
Dancing with the Stars: Athletes premieres Monday, April 30, at 8/7c on ABC.