Six of the 10 competitors who will vie for the mirror ball trophy on season 26 of “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes” are Olympians, and one more is a Youth Olympian and Olympic hopeful.
They are snowboarder Jamie Anderson, softball player Jennie Finch, figure skater Tonya Harding, luger Chris Mazdzer, figure skater Mirai Nagasu, basketball player Arike Ogunbowale and figure skater Adam Rippon.
Season 26 of the show, which is the first to feature all athletes, will begin on April 30 and last a shortened four weeks.
The figure skaters lead the way among the Olympic athletes ready to salsa and tango their way to success on this season’s show.
Harding is riding the wave of last year’s biopic “I, Tonya,” which starred Margot Robbie portraying the two-time Olympic figure skater and telling her side of the story of the scandal for which Harding became famous in the 1990s. Harding’s rival and two-time Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan previously competed on the show in season 24. Harding will be dancing with Sasha Farber, who finished fourth with gymnast Simone Biles in Kerrigan’s season.
Nagasu won a team bronze medal at February’s Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, where she became the first American woman – and only the third in the world – to land a triple axel at the Games. In the women’s individual free skate, she caught some heat for saying that her free skate performance in PyeongChang was her audition for DWTS, adding that she wanted to be on the program because she wanted to be a star. Her wish was granted and she will in fact compete on season 26. The two-time Olympian will dance with Alan Bersten.
Rippon became a media darling at the Olympics in PyeongChang, where he also helped Team USA to a bronze medal in the team event. Rippon was competing as one of the first two openly gay U.S. men’s winter Olympians, along with freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy. The 2016 U.S. champion will be dancing with first-time pro Jenna Johnson.
Representing snowboarders, Anderson is the two-time women’s slopestyle Olympic champion who added a silver medal in the first-ever big air competition in PyeongChang this year. The 27-year-old queen of slopestyle is known for being a free spirit and is the first woman ever to win multiple gold medals in snowboarding at the Olympics. She will be paired with Artem Chigvintsev.
The only Summer Games athlete on the list, Finch was one of the most dominant pitchers in women’s softball before retiring from the sport in 2010. She competed in the Olympics in 2004 and 2008, winning gold and silver, and in 2016 became the first woman to manage a professional baseball team when she guest managed for the minor league Bridgeport Bluefish in Connecticut. Finch will dance with Keo Motsepe as she becomes the first softball player on the show.
Three-time Olympian Chris Mazdzer is the first U.S. luge athlete to compete in the dancing competition. He made history in PyeongChang when he set a track record with his third run and became the first American and non-European man to win an Olympic medal in singles luge. He will be dancing with Witney Carson, who won the mirror ball in season 19 with actor Alfonso Ribeiro.
A seventh athlete competed in the Youth Olympic Games. Notre Dame basketball's Ogunbowale became a star after her two buzzer-beaters in the semifinals and finals of the NCAA Championships helped the Irish win the women’s national title this year. Involved with Team USA since 2013, Ogunbowale won a gold medal in 3-on-3 at the Youth Olympics in 2014 and has said she’d love to participate in either 3-on-3 or as part of the full team in basketball at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. She will dance with Gleb Savchenko.
They join a list of 25 Olympians and one Paralympian who’ve previously competed on the show, including winners Apolo Ohno, Kristi Yamaguchi, Shawn Johnson, Meryl Davis and Laurie Hernandez.
The other athletes competing are basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, dancing with reigning champion Lindsay Arnold; former MLB outfielder Johnny Damon, paired with season 24 winner Emma Slater; and NFL cornerback Josh Norman, who will dance with two-time runner-up Sharna Burgess.