Four Athletes Reportedly on Dancing with the Stars
Cast of upcoming season reportedly includes highly-decorated snowboarder, two skaters, and softball’s most famous name.
Things are going to be a little different on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. We got the first news of that at the very end of the last season. After announcing the winners, Tom Bergeron casually lobbed at us that the next season, all the competitors would be athletes. More news came out afterwards, including that the season’s only going to be four weeks long. This is all courtesy, by the way, of the new showrunner, Andrew Llinares. He talks about keeping things “current and fresh,” but also “making the stories on the show more compelling” and the viewer’s “emotional connection.”
Which raises the question of how he thinks the show’s going to do that if it only has four weeks to manage it. Six to eight weeks might work better, if he really wants to shorten it, and might even be good to prevent viewer fatigue. But four weeks is too little. It’s also too little time for those celebrities who weren’t very good dancers at the beginning to get better, which means that not only are we going to see a lot less dancing, but we’ll lose much more good dancing than bad.
Some things, meanwhile, have not changed. As usual, the official cast announcement will be on Good Morning, America, on April 13th. And as usual, some of the cast got out beforehand. Early this week, US Weekly reported four names.
Jamie Anderson, the recent Olympic Champion
Of course they were going to get some prominent 2018 Olympians, and they’ve gotten both a multiple-gold medalist and a crowd favorite. The multiple-gold medalist is snowboarder Jamie Anderson, who now holds both Olympic golds given out in in women’s slopestyle so far, and she won silver in the first ever women’s big air too. She was absolutely one of the stars of NBC’s broadcast, so the majority of Americans are at least vaguely familiar with her.
The big question is just how good will she be. Dancing with the Stars has had two snowboarders on the show. The first, Louis Vito, was generally just average, and came in eighth. The second, Amy Purdy, became a brilliant dancer on prosthetic legs and lost only to the iconic Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Of course, she was dancing with Derek Hough. So Jamie’s level might be difficult to predict. She comes in more known than Vito or Purdy did, though, which should help with the votes.
Adam Rippon, the Olympic Character
But Anderson wasn’t the one everyone was still talking about after the Olympics ended. That was instead men’s skater Adam Rippon. Medalwise, he had to settle for a bronze in the team event, which still made him the first openly gay male American athlete to medal at the Winter Olympics. But he gave three of the most memorable performances of the skating event, showing fluidity, flair, and artistry, things that made him an obvious choice for Dancing with the Stars. He’s also extremely entertaining in the interviews, and should continue to be so. He’s not to everyone’s taste, of course. But he’s already got enough love to get plenty of votes going in, and will probably nab more en route.
His wasn’t the only skating name that came up in the rumors, though. So did that of Mirai Nagasu. She and he were the darlings of the team event, surprising everyone with how well they skated and playing a huge part in getting the U.S. that medal. Then she skated badly in the ladies individual, and joked afterwards the whole thing really was just her Dancing with the Stars audition. She had to apologize later for that, as well as a few other similar remarks. It seems they haven’t gone with her, since another one of the four names is that of another female skater.
Tonya Harding, the Infamous Character
One hopes their decision wasn’t because of any dubious behavior on Nagasu’s part, though, when apparently their other skater is Tonya Harding. Since I, Tonya came out, and pointed out how the skating world and media were always hostile to poor, unfeminine, likely abused Tonya, popular opinion has gone the other way, instead showering her with more sympathy than she deserves, and thinking maybe she didn’t know about the whole plot to disable rival Nancy Kerrigan, even though the evidence stands that she did. After having Kerrigan on the show, having her does allow for symmetry. But while she may well end up being the most famous member of the cast, and may even increase the ratings, getting votes is another matter. It’ll be a test of how far the new sympathy for her really goes.
Also, one thing she and her supporters don’t like to remember is that Harding often didn’t work as hard as she ought to have back when she was competing; her poor results weren’t always because of biased judging. She also often refused to work on the aspects of skating she didn’t care about, i.e., anything non-technical. Those aren’t habits that bode well for Dancing with the Stars. Meanwhile, her tendency to complain and blame everyone else for everything that happens could further try viewers’ patience. It’ll have to be Rippon trying to score another win for skating; it won’t be Harding.
Jennie Finch, the older Olympic Champion
The cast won’t just be winter athletes, of course. Reportedly, it also includes softball pitcher Jennie Finch. She’s an Olympic gold medalist herself, as part of the 2004 U.S. team, as well as a silver medalist from 2008. But more than that, Finch has pretty much been the face of softball, as well as one of the best players her sport has had. It’s not the world’s most famous sport, and being a woman’s sport doesn’t help there. But she has its entire fanbase, and a lot of little American girls grew up idolizing her. That should get her started votewise.
This isn’t her first reality TV rodeo, and even after retiring in 2010, she hasn’t left the public spotlight, working to further raise her sport’s profile. She’s had both the wholesome look and wholesome Christian reputation that will help her further with Dancing with the Stars’ audience. All in all, the only thing that might keep her from being around at the end is if she proves unable to dance. They’ve never had a softball player. They have had a baseball player, Davis Ross, who wasn’t very good. He came in second anyway, but he was much more famous. Also a little older than her. And if she outdances her male equivalent, she wouldn’t be the first lady on this show to do so. (As noted above, Purdy was another.) So she may well be good enough.
So far, ABC has declined to confirm or deny that these four people are actually in the cast, but reports like this one tend to be true. We’ll know for sure on the 13th. Dancing with the Stars premieres April 30th.