Dancing With the Stars Week 3 Recap: Are the Right Athletes In the Finale?

DWTS Athletes

And just like that, Dancing With the Stars‘ all-athletes edition has reached its semifinals. Just when you were getting used to this cycle’s breakneck pace — if you were getting used to it, that is — Season 26 is about to come to an abrupt end.

Monday’s broadcast of the ABC series was especially brutal, as half of the remaining competitors were booted before next week’s finale, bringing the crop from six teams to just three. But are the right pairs moving on?

Before we get to the results, here’s a brief rundown of the night’s performances:

Mirai Nagasu and pro Alan Bersten (Quickstep) — Mirai has already proven she’s a strong, skilled dancer, so it was no surprise to see her turn in this fun and sassy quickstep — even if I was a bit distracted by that Big Band version of Fifth Harmony’s “Bo$$.” But I’m feeling disconnected from Mirai as a contestant, and that chasm grows every time she “shades” one of her fellow competitors. I know it’s all in good fun — and I’ve seen more than a few commenters argue that Dancing shouldn’t be a popularity contest — but I do think there’s something to be said for a dancer’s charm, or lack thereof. Judges’ Score: 35/40

Jennie Finch and pro Keo Motsepe (Viennese Waltz) — Even though DWTS likes to be emotionally manipulative with weekly themes like “MVP Night” — tell us who your biggest hero is and sob through a story about them! — it’s always nice to see some of the weaker contestants find a genuine connection to their performances. By dedicating this routine to her husband, Jennie had a huge spike in confidence and elegance. Judges’ Score: 29/40

Chris Mazdzer and pro Witney Carson (Foxtrot) — I was really disappointed to see Chris falter this week, because he was making a strong case for the Mirrorball. This foxtrot seemed a bit forced in parts, particularly during Chris and Witney’s synchronized section atop the piano. But when they were on, they were positively enchanting. Judges’ Score: 33/40

Tonya Harding and pro Sasha Farber (Rumba) — Tonya and Sasha’s performance didn’t earn the night’s highest score, but it may have been the most emotionally compelling of the broadcast’s six dances. Tonya performed in honor of her late father, and she pulled off a lovely, sincere rumba, even while on the brink of tears for much of the dance. Judges’ Score: 33/40

Adam Rippon and pro Jenna Johnson (Contemporary) — It’s not often that Dancing amateurs attempt contemporary routines, especially not as early as Week 3. The choreography is so intricate, so abstract, that it’s hard for any rookie dancer to really nail it — but Adam did. His lines were breathtaking, his connection to the material was authentic and, truth be told, I’m still thinking about Jenna’s marvelous jump into Adam’s arms, where she stayed frozen around his body for a few gorgeous seconds. Judges’ Score: 39/40

Josh Norman and pro Sharna Burgess (Contemporary) — I didn’t feel that Josh was quite as emotionally connected to this choreography as Adam was to his, but Josh still did a solid job with these tricky contemporary steps. He’s shaping up to be one of this season’s most versatile performers, and I’m genuinely looking forward to whatever comes next. Judges’ Score: 36/40

The six remaining pairs also faced off in Ballroom Battles, in which two teams simultaneously performed a dance in one particular style. Tonya and Sasha triumphed over Jennie and Keo with the cha-cha; Adam and Jenna edged out Mirai and Alan with the jive; and Josh and Sharna beat Chris and Witney with the salsa.

And now, the results:

COUPLES ADVANCING TO FINALE (in order they were announced)
Adam Rippon and pro Jenna Johnson
Tonya Harding and pro Sasha Farber
Josh Norman and pro Sharna Burgess

ELIMINATED
Jennie Finch and pro Keo Motsepe
Chris Mazdzer and pro Witney Carson
Mirai Nagasu and pro Alan Bersten

With that, I hand it over to you! Do you agree with the athletes going to the finale? Drop a comment below with your thoughts on Monday’s episode!