‘Dancing With The Stars: Athletes’ Premiere Recap: 10 Pairs Hit ‘DWTS’ Dance Floor, Only 8 Move On To Week 2

Craig SjodinABC

Season 26 of Dancing with the Stars premiered Monday night on ABC and 10 different celebrity athletes hit the dance floor with their professional dance partners. Because this round of DWTS is a short season consisting of only four weeks, the eliminations began right away and two pairs were sent packing before the end of the night. Who wowed the judges and who won’t be dancing in Week 2?

As was previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Season 26 pairs were all dancing the cha cha, salsa, foxtrot, or Viennese waltz. Chris Mazdzer and Witney Carson performed first this week on Dancing with the Stars and their salsa garnered them a score of 21 points. Their dance got mostly positive reviews from the judges, and a 21 is a pretty decent score for the first dance of a new season.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lindsay Arnold went second and this Dancing with the Stars team performed a cha cha. Working through their significant height difference will be a challenge for them, and the judges pointed out some rhythm issues. The two earned a total score of 17, low enough that as PureDWTS noted, they would have to worry a bit about being in jeopardy. Third came Jennie Finch Daigle with Keo Motsepe, and their DWTS debut earned them an overall score of 21 points.

Jamie Anderson and Artem Chigvintsev were tasked with the Viennese waltz, and they were the only Dancing with the Stars duo to dance that in the premiere. They earned a shaky 19 points with their routine, potentially putting them in the danger zone as well.

Olympic skater Mirai Nagasu comes into Season 26 of Dancing with the Stars facing high expectations, but she and partner Alan Bersten wowed the judges and viewers. Alan and Mirai packed their salsa with lots of tricks and lifts, notes Buddy TV, and they earned 23 points as a result.

Notre Dame standout Arike Ogunbowale and partner Gleb Savchenko had to do their salsa after Nagasu and Bersten’s fabulous debut, and this position certainly could have been seen as a disadvantage for them. However, Arike and Gleb had a good time with their performance and they scored a fairly respectable 20 points.

Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson, heavily favored by many to be serious contenders this spring on DWTS, came next with their cha cha and they delivered. Many Dancing with the Stars viewers expect the main competition this spring to be between Adam and Mirai, and Monday’s premiere certainly set it up to look likely. Adam and Jenna snagged 24 points, giving them an edge on the leaderboard.

Johnny Damon and Emma Slater’s foxtrot had some issues according to the judges, and they landed a little low with just 18 points. Tonya Harding has generated a lot of buzz with her decision to do Dancing with the Stars this spring and her introductory package seems to have resonated with a lot of people. Tonya and partner Sasha Farber gelled nicely for their foxtrot and they impressed the judges. Tonya and Sasha earned 23 points, tying them with Mirai and Alan.

The last pair to dance Monday night was Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess, and they danced the cha cha. Josh is another Dancing with the Stars contestant heavily favored to make it to the finale and he got off to a great start with a 24-point cha cha, tying Adam and Jenna.

Viewers voted throughout the premiere and three couples were put in jeopardy of immediate elimination. The first three couples of Dancing with the Stars Season 26 in trouble were Tonya and Sasha and Johnny and Emma along with Jamie and Artem. Harding and Farber were then told that they were safe, so they’ll move on to dance again in Week 2, while both Damon and Slater, as well as Anderson and Chigvintsev, are already done competing.

Will the Season 26 DWTS finale be a battle between Mirai Nagasu, Adam Rippon, and Josh Norman as many people expect, or will someone slide into the finale as a surprise pick? It’s going to be an intense competition this time around and Dancing with the Stars fans will be counting down to the Week 2 performances to see who rises to the top.