A gymnast, a figure skater and Mr. T walk into a ballroom. It’s not the start of a joke; it’s the latest cast of “Dancing with the Stars.”
When the celebrity lineup of the hit reality competition TV show’s 24th season was announced Wednesday morning, it included two of the most recognizable names in U.S. Olympic history – both of whom are favored to do well.
Kerrigan, now 47, was one of the most revered figure skating stars of the early ‘90s. She won Olympic bronze and silver medals in 1992 and 1994, as well as world bronze and silver in 1991 and 1992. Kerrigan is one of only five U.S. women to earn multiple individual Olympic medals.
Biles, 28 years her junior at 19, made her Olympic debut last summer in Rio, where she earned five gymnastics medals: golds in all-around, floor, vault and team, and bronze on balance beam. She also has 14 world championships medals, earned from 2013-15, and is the most decorated U.S. gymnast ever.
Team USA has a storied history on the show, with Biles and Kerrigan becoming the 24th and 25th Olympians to compete in its 12-year history. If the past is any indication, both athletes are expected to go far. Figure skaters and gymnasts are the most popular Olympic athletes to appear on the show, with Kerrigan being the sixth skater and Biles the fifth gymnast. And all of their predecessors placed within the top five on the show, with the exception of Dorothy Hamill, who withdrew from injury.
Five U.S. Olympians have won the coveted mirror ball trophy: short track speedskater Apolo Ohno (Season 4), figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi (Season 6), gymnast Shawn Johnson (Season 8), figure skater Meryl Davis (Season 18) and gymnast Laurie Hernandez (Season 23).
Biles will compete with Sasha Farber, who previously danced with 2008 Olympic champion gymnast Nastia Liukin for part of Season 20 while her partner was injured, and Kerrigan is teamed with Artem Chigvintsev, who will compete with an athlete for the first time.