The key words this week at “Dancing with the Stars”: “double” and “triple.”
It’s a doubleheader again, with each athlete dancing twice: one individual dance, inspired by the MVP in each athlete’s life. Then it will be a ballroom battle “dance off” with three toe-to-toe performances, all for bonus judges points.
And each team gets a former DWTS athlete to help as a mentor.
The judges also got some help, from season 24 runner up David Ross.
At the end of the night: a triple elimination!
Here’s a rundown of the night’s dances, from highest to lowest:
Adam Rippon – Contemporary, 39 out of 40; 2 extra points for ballroom battle
We’ll be seeing a lot of votes for parents as MVP. For Adam, it’s Mom, who raised six kids on her own. And one of those kids was a busy, demanding future Olympian. Adam says she supported him no matter what, even when he came out to her. Jenna Johnson choreographs a tough but beautiful contemporary routine that highlights Adam’s strengths. Head judge Len Goodman liked the emotion, control and flair and thought it was the best dance of the night. David Ross agreed, and applauded their connection. Bruno Tonioli called them two mesmerizing, enchanting, birds of paradise and it was tough to decide who the pro dancer of the two was! Carrie Ann Inaba thanked him for being such an artist.
Josh Norman – Contemporary, 36 out of 40; 2 extra points for ballroom battle
Josh actually considers his four brothers his MVPs. They consider themselves a tight wolfpack who always stick together no matter what; but that doesn’t mean they’re sweet and sappy about it! Competition is key! Sharna Burgess choreographed a dance to “Stand by Me” in their honor and they got 9s across the board from the judges. Len said that even though it was very different from Adam’s contemporary dance, it was fluid with great lifts and well done. David’s word for it was smooth. Carrie Ann agreed and praised Josh’s surefootedness and peacefulness. Bruno liked the strong but confident dance, and liked that he felt Sharna was always safe in his hands.
Mirai Nagasu – Quickstep, 35 out of 40
The Olympian chooses her mom as her MVP, saying both she and her dad made a lot of sacrifices so she could achieve her goals. Her folks emigrated from Japan, and opened a restaurant in Southern California. Mirai said it’s all of their hard work, as a team, that got her to the top of her game on the ice rink. Her partner, Alan Bersten, reminded Mirai there’s no room for error with a triple elimination on the horizon. Len liked the routine, especially the fact they didn’t “mess about” and came out guns blazing. David called their quickstep impressive, and said it’s one of his favorite dances and thought she nailed it. Bruno thought the routine was bright and light like a firefly taking flight; however he did warn her to watch all the small details because it’s mastering the little things that make you a champ. Carrie Ann agreed, saying you don’t just need to be “A” level, you need “A+” to win this thing.
Chris Mazdzer – Foxtrot, 33 out of 40
It’s another tribute to Mom in the MVP race on DWTS. She supported him, drove him places, whatever it took with his athletic endeavors. Also, it turns out Mom is a DWTS superfan and she is beyond thrilled to be able to hang out in the ballroom. He and Witney Carson did a snazzy foxtrot, one that Bruno called razzle-dazzle and dashing, with a little Bob Fosse and Gene Kelly thrown in for good measure. Carrie Ann dinged them one point because she saw one move as a lift. And Len said while it was brave to start the dance out solo, it was a little flat. But once he was with Witney and the troupe, there was plenty of routine to enjoy that was full of entertainment.
Tonya Harding – Rumba, 33 out of 40; 2 extra points or ballroom battle
Tonya got very emotional talking about her father, who passed away several years ago. He was her rock and support system for her entire life, always in her corner and offering unconditional love even during her toughest times. Carrie Ann said there is no better way to love someone than when you dance with your heart; she told Tonya the whole room is now in her corner. David thought that routine was inspiring, and he was proud of her. There was more that Len liked than he didn’t; the good was light and shade, slow and fast, but he wanted more hip action. Overall, the head judge called it lovely dancing, full of emotion.
Jennie Finch Daigle – Viennese Waltz, 29 out of 40;
No surprise Jennie’s baseball playing husband and father to her trio of kids is her MVP. She can hardly talk about him without tearing up. Jennie said her goal this week while dancing with Keo Motsepe was to be in the moment, breathe, and enjoy it. She succeeded. Len had a few small critiques about arms, stability and hold, but said what Jennie did do right was great. David told Jennie she reminds him of what happened on his journey last year. Carrie Ann thinks she embodies the spirit of the show, and told Jennie she draws us in with her presence. The judge also said she wished we’d had more weeks during this competition because she thought it would serve Jennie well. That drew a reaction from the crowd, who thought Carrie Ann was already telling us Jennie was going home! Carrie Ann tried to explain her way out of it, but… awkward!
The ballroom battle for judges’ points saw Jennie vs. Tonya in the first round. Gymnast and DWTS alum Nastia Liukin was their mentor. The two couples do side by side routines. Len thought this was difficult to judge, it was a good try by all. Carrie Ann liked this matchup, and agreed it’s tough to judge. In the end, three judges chose Tonya; one, Jennie.
The second round pitted BFFs Mirai and Adam. No surprise, it was fantastic. The judges acknowledged they are both going for the gold; or rather, the mirror ball. It was close. So close, it was a tie, 2-2, with the judges. That meant America’s vote made the decision: and it was Adam.
Round three saw Josh vs. Chris. You just KNEW shirts would be coming off and they did not disappoint. It was very close once again, and for a second we thought it was another tie. Then producers revealed David held up the wrong paddle, and the judges gave the 2 points to Josh.
In a rapid fire elimination round, we saw three couples saved: Adam and Jenna, Tonya and Sasha, and Josh and Sharna. That meant Mirai, Jennie and Chris were sent home.
The finals are next Monday, and each couple will perform twice in the quest for mirror ball glory.