Dancing With the Stars: Athletes Season 26 Episode 1 Review: 2601

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After 25 seasons, we've seen plenty of athletes strut their stuff on the dance floor, and many of them went home with Mirrorball trophies, so it's no shock that Dancing With the Stars: Athletes Season 26 Episode 1 is showcasing all athletes. 

The twist? They've only got four weeks to strut their stuff and prove they're worthy of that Mirrorball, and, in the first time in Dancing With the Stars history, two were sent home at the end of tonight's premiere. 

Dancing With the Stars: Athletes Season 26 Episode 1

With the rockin' "We Will Rock You" opener, complete with flags and pom poms, the fast pace will keep everyone on their toes!

Here's how it all turned out...

Chris Mazdzer and pro, Witney Carson danced a salsa to “Mr. Put It Down” by Ricky Martin featuring Pitbull. Witney may have admired Chris' point, but it was more difficult not to admire his hip movement.

Len mentioned that it's the first time he's scene Chris vertical, and if that makes the Olympic medal luge winner nervous, it never showed. Carrie Ann loved his shimmying shoulders, while Bruno compared their spray tanned chests. Judges score: 21 out of 30

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Next up, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with pro, Lindsay Arnold. The height difference was hard not to fixate on with these two. Kareem is 7'1"-ish, while Lindsay is 5'4'".

I don't think there are heels high enough to not make that noticeable. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lindsay Arnold - Dancing With the Stars: Athletes Season 26 Episode 1

The twosome danced to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” by Stevie Wonder with help from an ensemble dance troupe. As Lindsay said in this Dancing With the Stars quote...

I could not be more proud of my 71 year old, cancer surviving legend.


The judges and the audience loved Kareem! Judges score: 17 out of 30

We visited Olympic gold-medal winning softball player Jennie Finch Daigle and pro, Keo Motsepe at her ranch in Louisiana where she lives with her husband and three children. I had to laugh as Keo jumped when the cow licked him.

The two performed a Viennese waltz to “Feeling Good” by Avicii. It was a little awkward, but a solid effort for a first dance. Len pointed out that she was gripping Keo's shoulder like it was a softball! But having her kids on stage was a heartwarming touch. Judges score: 21 out of 30

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On to Olympic bronze-medal winning figure skater Mirai Nagasu and pro, Alan Bersten.

I'll admit, I'm a huge figure skating fan so I was waiting for the first of three figure skaters in this competition to take the stage. 

Well after their salsa to “No Excuses” by Meghan Trainor, I can't imagine how this couple won't make it to the finale, but then again, there have been huge upsets in Dancing history so I shouldn't place any bets just yet.

Mirai Nagasu and Alan Bersten - Dancing With the Stars: Athletes Season 26 Episode 1

But come on! I can't remember seeing that many advanced tricks packed into a first dance and Mirai nailed them all. I was shocked that Carrie Ann only gave her a 7. Judges score: 23 out of 30

Arike Ogunbowale and pro, Gleb Savchenko. Arike was awarded Most Valuable Player in the recent NCAA playoffs and is a junior at Notre Dame. After the show, she had to catch a red-eye flight to give a presentation in class in the morning.

Now that's badass.

This duo danced the salsa to “Them Girls” by Whitney Myer, and unlike Carrie Ann, I loved that Arike chose not to wear heels.

Arike was fun and she had her own groove going on. I want to see more. Judges score: 20 out of 30

Finally, we get to Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson. Yup, I'll admit it, I'm a huge fan of Adam. Not only is he as cute as could be, but he has amazing eyebrows, and he's also a fantastic skater!

I was expecting a lot from this performance. 

Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson - Dancing With the Stars: Athletes Season 26 Episode 1

Adam and Jenna didn't disappoint. Their salsa to “Sissy That Walk” by RuPaul was such fun to watch. As Bruno called it...

The angel of the ballroom, with the hip action of a devil.

Bruno Tonioli

Jenna and Adam had amazing chemistry from day one and they were totally in sync on the dance floor. If they don't make it to the finale, I might cry. Judges score: 24 of 30

Next up, Johnny Damon and Emma Slater hit the field...or the dance floor, to foxtrot to "Centerfield" by John Fogerty. 

Johnny had no dance experience and it showed, but he put in one heck of an effort, and I expect nothing less from the two time World Series winning baseball player.

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Johnny had nice footwork, and it was an appropriate song, but my hopes weren't high for this couple to move forward when it was done. Judges score 18 out of 30.

In the home stretch, we've got figure skater Tonya Harding and pro, Sasha Farber dancing a foxtrot to “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.

Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber - Dancing With the Stars: Athletes Season 26 Episode 1

If you think you know Tonya Harding's story, and you haven't seen the movie "I, Tonya," you need to watch it. 

I loved that Allison Janney, the actress who played her horrible mother in the movie and won an Academy Award for the performance, was there to cheer on Tonya. 

You have people look at you like you're nothing, you start to believe you are nothing.

Tonya Harding

When the performance was over and Tonya told Erin she felt like a princess, I was tearing up. You go, Girl! Judges score: 23 out of 30

The final dance went to the NFL's Josh Norman and pro, Sharna Burgess, who danced a cha cha to "Finesse" by Bruno Mars. 

I wasn't expecting much from the football star, and boy did he prove me wrong! Josh brought the goods, the star quality, and the sex appeal.

 Judges score: 24 out of 30.

Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess - Dancing With the Stars: Athletes Season 26 Episode 1

When it was all over, Adam Rippon and Josh Norman tied for the top scores, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Johnny Damon were at the bottom.

But with two couples going home, everyone held their breath as the audience votes poured in...

The three couples in jeopardy: Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber, Johnny Damon and Emma Slater, and Jamie Anderson and Artem Chigvintsev. 

Who was saved? Tonya and Sasha

That left Johnny Damon and Jamie Anderson headed home.

So you tell me TV Fanatics, did the right teams get cut? Is four weeks enough time for these dancers to grow?

And who do you think will take home the Mirrorball Trophy? 

Check back in for my review of Dancing With the Stars Season 26 Episode 2, and until then you can watch Dancing With the Stars: Athletes online here at TV Fanatic.

2601 Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (8 Votes)

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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Dancing With the Stars Season 26 Episode 1 Quotes

Luge is a mental sport. Everything is happening so fast that if you think, it's already too late.

Chris Mazdzer

There’s a flag on the play as Adam Rippon unleashes his inner Beyonce.