Sure they can tackle, but can they tango? Can you hit a home run and do the running man? How can you give up an ice skate for jazz shoe? There are so many questions to be answered in the 26th Season of Dancing With The Stars. The show, which has become a household staple, has jazzed up the traditional lineup this season by exclusively featuring athletes. The twist intensifies the competition as history has proven that athletes tend to fair well and usually cha cha their way to the top. Athletes make excellent candidates for the show, since they are accustomed to lengthy practices, and intense physical challenges. Let’s take a look at the star athletes who are eyeing the Mirror Ball trophy this season:
Arike Ogunbowale with Gleb Savchenko
Arike Ogunbowale is a junior at Notre Dame and member of the women’s basketball team, who recently won the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament. She was also named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player this year. She is a five-time USA Basketball medalist with four gold and one silver.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Lindsay Arnold
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a six-time NBA champ and the league’s only six-time MVP. Before he left office, President Barack Obama awarded Kareem the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The 70 year old, yes 70, is still taking on new challenges as he gives dancing a whirl.
Jennie Finch with Keo Motsepe
Softball star Jennie Finch Daigle started pitching at age eight, with her father as her personal coach. In 2004 at the Olympics in Athens, her ASA team dominated their competitors and won the gold. Sports Illustrated hailed them as the greatest team of all time. She is known for her pink and black signature outfitting, which will be fun to see as she dazzles on the dance floor.
Johnny Damon with Emma Slater
A Major League Baseball star for 18 seasons, Johnny Damon was one of the most outstanding, respected and durable players in the game. After winning the 2004 World Series with the Boston Red Sox, Johnny signed with the New York Yankees in 2006. He joined Babe Ruth as the only full-time, everyday players to achieve World Series rings with both the Red Sox and Yankees. Let’s see if can earn a grand slam amongst the judges this season.
Mirai Nagasu with Alan Bersten
Mirai Nagasu was one of the youngest figure skaters to win a national title in 2008 and earned a spot to represent the U.S. in the 2018 Olympics at the age of 24, where she made history by becoming the first American woman to land a triple Axel in an Olympic Winter Games. She performed the difficult three-and-a-half revolution jump, helping Team USA win a bronze medal in the Olympic team event. Can she pirouette her way to a Mirror Ball trophy?
Chris Mazdzer with Witney Carson
In PyeongChang, South Korea, Chris made history becoming the first-ever American athlete to win a medal in the Men’s Single Luge event. Not just beauty and brawn, Chris has a degree in Business Administration/Finance, and when he’s done with his athletic career, he aspires to be a financial consultant. The double threat is looking to become a bonafide triple threat, by dancing his way into America’s homes.
Jamie Anderson with Artem Chigvintsev
Jamie Anderson is one of the top female snowboarders in the world and has won a record 15 X Games medals since she was 15 years old. Jamie led the U.S. medal sweep with a gold medal at the first-ever Olympic Slopestyle competition at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and successfully defended her gold medal in Slopestyle at the 2018 Winter Olympics Games in PyeongChang. Can she slide to victory with this new challenge?
Josh Norman with Sharna Burgess
Josh Norman became the highest-paid NFL cornerback in 2016 upon signing with the Washington Redskins after spending his previous four seasons with the Carolina Panthers. As he enters the seventh season, he proves to remain one of the most elite athletes at his position. Josh gives back to his South Carolina hometown community and provides academic enrichment opportunities for youth through his foundation, Starz24. I think we are all excited to see how he tackles this competition!
Adam Rippon with Jenna Johnson
One of the most dramatic figure skaters on the planet, Adam won the hearts of America and the world at the 2018 Winter Olympics. In addition to his recent team bronze medal in PyeongChang, Adam has garnered nine medals on the international circuit over the last four years, including the 2016 U.S. men’s championship title. The buzz is that he is already a fan favorite, but will that be enough to keep him at the top?
Tonya Harding with Sasha Farber
Tonya Harding won her first skating competition at the age of five. In 1991, at Senior Nationals, Tonya became the first American woman to attempt and land the extremely difficult Triple Axel. Her life story was recently depicted in the award-winning film I, Tonya. Her appearance on the show is causing a bit off controversy as some fans wonder if she should be allowed redemption after her troubled past. Perhaps this is the second chance Harding needs to finally get back in the country’s good graces.
Will this season bring the franchise a home run or a strikeout? I predict several strong competitors to come out of this lineup, with a close call in the final round. There are definitely some fun characters amongst the cast, so I am sure fans will also enjoy the personalities they typically tune in for.
Dancing With The Stars: Athletes premieres on April 30th on ABC.