Dancing With the Stars Premiere Recap: Which Athletes Went Home in Week 1?

DWTS Athletes

If 25 seasons of Dancing With the Stars have taught us anything, it’s this: Bruno Tonioli loves a good spray tan.

Oh, and this: Professional athletes are darn good ballroom dancers. Across 25 cycles, the ABC reality competition has awarded 10 of its coveted Mirrorball trophies to athletes, and more than a dozen pro sports players have nabbed second or third place over the last 13 years of broadcasts.

It’s no surprise, then, that Dancing developed an all-athletes edition, a condensed four-week season that debuted Monday night. It’s so condensed, in fact, that two couples went home at the end of the season premiere — barely enough time for these athletes to learn a box step!

Who hit their first Dancing routine out of the park? Who fell short of the end zone? And how many sports clichés will I work into four weeks of recaps? (So. Many.)

Before we get to the results, let’s review the Week 1 performances:

Chris Mazdzer and pro Witney Carson (Salsa) — I had a sneaking suspicion that Chris would be a pleasant surprise in Season 26, and his first routine backed up that theory. Never mind that he’s a professional luger and literally lies down for a living; he’s equally impressive on his feet. And he can do body rolls! Judges’ Score: 21/30

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and pro Lindsay Arnold (Cha-Cha) — Kareem’s first routine had everything you would expect from a Dancing contestant who doesn’t entirely know what he’s doing: minimal footwork! Troupe members! Lots of support from the crowd! But even though Kareem’s performance was one of the night’s weakest, his positive attitude and willingness to learn made the routine enjoyable, as did that super-funky breakdown toward the end of the dance. Judges’ Score: 17/30

Jennie Finch and pro Keo Motsepe (Foxtrot) — It’s too bad this all-athletes season will go by so quickly; if Jennie and Keo had a few more weeks to develop their partnership, they could make a strong case for the Mirrorball. This foxtrot was perfectly pleasant, but I’m hoping for this pair to have stronger chemistry in the weeks ahead. Judges’ Score: 21/30

Jamie Anderson and pro Artem Chigvintsev (Viennese Waltz) — Despite Jamie’s insecurities in rehearsal — “I have no idea how to do anything I’m doing!” she sighed — she really grasped the fluidity and elegance of the Viennese waltz, which many previous contestants have tried and failed to do. Judges’ Score: 19/30

Mirai Nagasu and pro Alan Bersten (Salsa) — Based on her performance in Monday’s premiere, I would not be surprised to see Mirai in the finale — potentially alongside fellow Olympians Chris Mazdzer and Adam Rippon, who also showcased some real dancing chops. Though her energy was a bit too manic at times, Mirai’s movements were crazy-sharp, and she nailed every one of those heart-rate-spiking acrobatic tricks. Judges’ Score: 25/30

Arike Ogunbowale and pro Gleb Savchenko (Salsa) — Though Arike doesn’t have much time to win over the voting audience, she did make a strong first impression with this salsa. It wasn’t technically perfect — and she wasn’t wearing heels! — but the college basketball champ certainly showcased confidence and a strong sense of rhythm. Judges’ Score: 20/30

Adam Rippon and pro Jenna Johnson (Cha-Cha) — Adam and Jenna just might be a match made in Dancing heaven. That chemistry! Those hip swivels! That synchronized final leap! Not only does Adam have a natural connection with his partner, but he’s already proved himself capable of handling tricky choreography. Judges’ Score: 24/30

Johnny Damon and pro Emma Slater (Foxtrot) — Johnny did a respectable job with this foxtrot, but it was far from the most memorable routine of the night. In fact, it wasn’t memorable at all. I can only recall baseball outfits and whistles, if we’re being honest. Judges’ Score: 18/30

Tonya Harding and pro Sasha Farber (Foxtrot) — Say what you will about Tonya Harding, but she turned in a truly lovely foxtrot on Monday night. She didn’t just get the steps right; she brought grace and vulnerability to each movement, and that’s to say nothing of the insane floor spin she pulled off halfway through the number. I’m genuinely excited to see what she does next. Judges’ Score: 23/30

Josh Norman and pro Sharna Burgess (Cha-Cha) — Josh and Sharna closed the show with a sexy, fast-paced cha-cha that was easily the evening’s most entertaining routine. Sharna threw some seriously tough choreography at the Redskins cornerback, and he rose to the occasion, forging a fun, electric chemistry with his partner while mastering the steps. Judges’ Score: 24/30

And now, the results:

COUPLES IN JEOPARDY
Jamie Anderson and pro Artem Chigvintsev
Johnny Damon and pro Emma Slater
Tonya Harding and pro Sasha Farber

SENT TO SAFETY
Tonya Harding and pro Sasha Farber

ELIMINATED
Jamie Anderson and pro Artem Chigvintsev
Johnny Damon and pro Emma Slater

With that, I turn it over to you. Were Jamie and Johnny the right choices for elimination? And which athletes are you rooting for in this shortened season? Drop a comment below with your thoughts!