The long-awaited Dancing With the Stars: Athletes for season 26 of the show has arrived. The DWTS 2018 cast is solely made up of athletic contestants who have won Olympic medals and have had major impacts on their sports category over the years. This season is a shortened edition of the show, airing for just four weeks, so episodes will be condensed.
For season 26 of DWTS, this isn’t the only big change. For example, there will only be 10 competitors taking part in the competition. There is even a new show runner, according to E! News. Andrew Llinares has taken on the DWTS gig and he has briefly spoken about his being involved with the beloved series. Upon announcing the news, Llinares said that, “Dancing With the Stars is one of the largest scale shows on television, and I love that it provides a place for me, as a producer, to have big, ambitious ideas that I can then bring to life.”
Co-hosts Erin Andrews and Tom Bergeron have come back for another sseasson. Plus, all three judges (Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba) have returned as well. When it comes to this season’s contestants, the athletes who’ve been cast include Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu, Jamie Anderson, Chris Mazdzer, Jennie Finch, Arike Ogunbowale, Josh Norman, Johnny Damon, and Tonya Harding. Get to know each of the athletes below.
Kareem Abdul-Jabaar on “Dancing With the Stars”
Kareen Abdul-Jabaar is a legend in basketball and now he is paired with mirrorball champion Lindsay Arnold on Dancing With the Stars. The massive height difference between Abdul-Jabaar and Arnold may prove to be a bit of a challenge this season, but Arnold’s a pro, right? Recently, Abdul-Jabaar told the Wall Street Journal that, in being on DWTS, “I want to show that old people can have fun, too.” He is 71 years old and he stands at 7′ 2″.
Adam Rippon on “Dancing With the Stars”
Olympian figure skater Adam Rippon said he’s going to leave all the competition on the dance floor when he appeared on Good Morning America. He also said that his pro partner, Jenna Johnson, may have her hands full with him. Johnson has primarily been a troupe dancer on the show, though she was a full-time pro competitor on DWTS briefly for a season. She is also the girlfriend of DWTS favorite Val Chmerkovskiy. Unfortunately, Chmerkovskiy is not participating in the show this season, but Rippon told Entertainment Tonight that he plans on using Chmerkovskiy as inspiration on the show. Rippon explained that, “Watching Val dance has been really helpful. I’ll pull up videos and see how he dances. He’s got potential … I’m going to be channeling him the entire competition.”
Jennie Finch on “Dancing With the Stars”
Jennie Finch said on Good Morning America that her kids are very excited for her to be on the show this season. Finch is a softball player, who is a retired 2-time pro All-Star. She is also married to a Major League Baseball pitcher named Sean Casey Daigle. For the DWTS competition, Finch is paired with pro Keo Motsepe in the ballroom and, according to Closer Weekly, Motsepe is very excited about the athletes edition of the show. Motsepe dished, “I think it’s an amazing season, to have all athletes. I think for all the pros and I, the pressure is on because there are no actors or anything.” Motsepe also said that he thinks having kid contestants is a good idea for another edition of the show.
Chris Mazdzer on “Dancing With the Stars”
Luger Chris Mazdzer is dancing with mirrorball winner Witney Carson this season and she is one of the fan-favorite pros. This past winter, Mazdzer won a silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, but he is now focusing on another silver prize – the mirrorball trophy. When speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Mazdzer revealed that, “It’s my Mom’s favorite show. There’s no way she’d ever forgive me if I ever turned it down. It’s going to be a large audience, and a different audience. I’m excited to bring the small sport of luge to a big audience.”
Jamie Anderson on “Dancing With the Stars”
Artem Chigvintsev has voiced that he wanted an athlete as a partner on the show in the past, so this is the perfect season for him, right? Jamie Anderson is known as an Olympic snowboarder and she is paired with Artem Chigvintsev. Anderson is actually the first female snowboarder to win more than one Olympic gold medal. While gearing up for the new season, Chigvintsev also discussed dance in general, and how it can be an asset to singles out there. He explained to Entertainment Tonight that, “I feel like every single person on this earth should experience and be educated in [dance], because the etiquette comes with it. Men need to learn how to treat a woman, and I feel like through this dancing, it definitely gives you that exposure.”
Tonya Harding on “Dancing With the Stars”
Tonya Harding joked on Good Morning America that her figure skating talents haven’t really translated to the ballroom. She also said that her pro partner, Sasha Farber, may have his hands full with her this season. With all the hype surrounding Margot Robbie’s film I, Tonya, Harding’s being a part of DWTS is perfect timing. Over the years, since the infamous knee attack on figure-skater Nancy Kerrigan, Harding has had a bumpy relationship with the media, but now, Harding tells In Touch Weekly that, “I’m actually getting respect. I haven’t had that for a very long time.”
Mirai Nagasu on “Dancing With the Stars”
When this past Winter Olympics were going on, figure skater Mirai Nagasu told USA Today that she would love to be on DWTS and now she is a contestant. She’s also friends with fellow contestant Adam Rippon and recognized many of the other contestants. But, one athlete who didn’t recognize her was former figure-skating champion Tonya Harding, according to Nagasu, who told People, “She didn’t know who I was. But I know who she is.” Nagasu’s pro partner Alan Bersten then joked that Harding clearly hadn’t watched the Olympics this year.
Josh Norman on “Dancing With the Stars”
NFL star Josh Norman is dancing with pro Sharna Burgess and Burgess is definitely a fan-favorite on the show. According to AOL, the NFL player may stir up some heat on the show, as a source told AOL News that, “Josh is a total lose cannon! No one ever knows what’s going to come out of his mouth! He’s really funny and competitive and loves the camera. If he doesn’t agree with a score the judges give him, you can definitely expect him to share a piece of his mind.”
Johnny Damon on “Dancing With the the Stars”
Johnny Damon revealed on Good Morning America that he has a total of 8 children and they are all excited for him to be a part of the cast. He has twins from a previous marriage, and also six kids with his current wife, Michelle. For those who are unfamiliar with Damon, he is a retired professional baseball outfielder, who played in Major League Baseball from 1995 to 2012, according to Pop Sugar. He is dancing with Emma Slater this season.
Arike Ogunbowale on “Dancing With the Stars”
Recently, Ogunbowale has been gearing up for finals in college, because she is also a student, so she and pro partner Gleb Savchenko may have a little trouble juggling Ogunbowale’s busy schedule. Ogunbowale’s involvement in the show was announced separately from the other contestants on GMA, as she and Savchenko videoed in her big cast member reveal. According to Gold Derby, the NCAA restricts the Notre Dame athlete from promoting Dancing with the Stars: Athletes, which would definitely be a disadvantage. But, the Washington Post has revealed Ogunbowale is eligible to participate on the show and accept any prize money because the show is “unrelated to her basketball abilities.” Because Ogunbowale isn’t allowed to promote the show, that’s probably why she didn’t physically appear on Good Morning America with her fellow cast members, according to USA Today.