The competition will be fast and furious on Dancing with the Stars: Athletes. The four-week season with 10 stars from the sports world kicks off with the couples performing their first dances, but that will be it for multiple pairs.
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For the premiere, viewers will be able to vote live on ABC.com during the two-hour episode. Those votes and the judges’ scores will be combined and at least two couples will go home the first night. ABC only specifies that there will be “eliminations,” though presumably it will be limited to just two.
This makes predicting very difficult. We haven’t seen any of these couples dance yet and have no idea what the scores will look like. Also, it remains to be seen if performance order matters. In theory, the couples that go at the end will only have a small window of time for viewers to vote after seeing their routines, so dancing early might be a huge advantage.
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Knowing that there will be eliminations on the first night may also influence how the judges score the couples. They may be more generous with pairs they want to save (we could see some 8s or even 9s) and they may be extremely harsh on couples they think should go home right away (if you see a 4, it’s probably the kiss of death).
For my best guess, here are the five couples who I think are in the most danger of going home on the first night:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lindsay Arnold: She may be the reigning Mirror Ball champion, but he’s absurdly tall and in his 70s. While I could see people liking him and rooting for him, I also imagine that hi dancing will be the worst of any couple. If h his scores are low enough, he could be in danger.
Chris Mazdzer and Witney Carson: This Olympic luger is a wild card. He could be great or he could be terrible. But he seems like one of the least well-known stars and with eliminations on the first night, a lack of pre-show popularity could really hurt him.
Arike Ogunbowale and Gleb Savchenko: She’s another wild card and the fact that NCAA rules prohibit her from doing promotion for the show may really hurt her popularity and ability to get votes. In general, basketball players don’t tend to do very well and since she’s so young (still in college), she may not have enough people rooting for her.
Jennie Finch and Keo Motsepe: Jennie is one of the older contestants this season, but the odds are stacked against her because of Keo. I like Keo and really want him to be given a great partner so he can make a deep run and get the TV time he deserves, but the fact is that he has been part of the first or second couple eliminated in five out of his six seasons. With multiple eliminations on the first night, the statistics point to these two going home.
Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber: Sure, Tonya is probably the most famous star on this season, but is it the right kind of fame? Her notoriety may turn some voters off and, as the oldest woman on this season, her scores may struggle.
Assuming only two couples will go home, I predict that Jennie and Keo and Arike and Gleb will be eliminated. At this point, it’s always a safe bet to predict that Keo will go home first (as he did with the last Summer Olympian he was paired with, Lolo Jones). And I don’t think Arike has enough support to get enough viewer votes.
Which couples do you think will go home first?
Dancing with the Stars: Athletes premieres Monday, April 30 at 8/7c on ABC. For more updates, like BuddyTV’s DWTS Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of ABC)