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Athletes go for the Mirror Ball Trophy on ‘Dancing With The Stars’

Written By | May 19, 2018
Tonya Harding, Sasha Farber, Mirror Ball Trophy

Tonya Harding and pro partner Sasha Farber are the surprise finalists on Monday’s final of “Dancing With The Stars: Athletes.” ABC/Kelsey McNeal

SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 18, 2018: The abbreviated four-week season for the special all-athletes edition of “Dancing With The Stars” has flashed by in world-record time. Capping off the race for the Mirror Ball Trophy, Monday’s special finale features three final competitors.

No surprise to see figure skater and "America's Sweetheart" Adam Rippon in Monday's finals with pro Jenna Johnson. Photo: ABC/Kelsey McNeal Mirror Ball Trophy

No surprise to see figure skater and “America’s Sweetheart” Adam Rippon in Monday’s finals with pro Jenna Johnson. Photo: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Everyone expected figure skater Adam Rippon and pro Jenna Johnson to make the final. But NFL star Josh Norman and pro partner Sharna Burgess? Josh showed talent in week one, but there was no assurance he’d gain enough skills and fan votes to be here in week three.

NFL star Josh Norman joins a long line of football pros who have made the DWTS finals. Photo: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

NFL star Josh Norman joins a long line of football pros who have made the DWTS finals. Photo: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

The biggest surprise: Olympic and world figure skating veteran Tonya Harding. Making the final for Harding and pro partner Sasha Farber is already a victory. America loves a redemption story. So when Harding showed she’s still an athlete who has acquired the grace which sometimes eluded her as a competitive figure skater, they’ve given her the validation she was always looking for.

Monday’s finale: two dances and fan votes for the win

All ten of the athletes reunited at the top of the live show for a group dance number. The three finalist couples will each perform two dances. The first round will be inspired by their journey on the show. Assignments include Jazz, Foxtrot and Viennese waltz routine.

The second round is the traditional no-holds-barred freestyle dance. At the end of the night, based on “last chance” live viewer votes in the Eastern and Central time zones via and Facebook, plus the judges’ scores and last week’s viewer votes, one couple will be crowned the champion and will life the special edition Athletes Mirror Ball Trophy.

Mirai Nagasu and Alan Bersten fell just short of the finale. Photo: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Dance assignments for the finals:

Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson: Jazz, “Anything You Can Do” from “Annie Get Your Gun” (New Broadway cast recording)

Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess: Foxtrot, “Conqueror” by the “Empire” TV show cast, featuring Estelle and Jussie Smollett

Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber, Viennese Waltz: “The Time of My Life” by David Cook

Each couple will dance freestyle to the following songs (in alphabetical order):

Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson: “Scooby Doo Pa Pa” by DJ Kass

Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess: “Walk on Water” by Thirty Seconds to Mars

Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber: “I Will Survive” by The Pussycat Dolls

Prediction: No change from our original choice for the Mirror Ball Trophy

Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson has the dance skills and fan appeal to take it all on Monday. Photo: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

We predicted Adam Rippon, the tongue-in-cheek self-declared “America’s Sweetheart,” would take home the Mirror Ball Trophy before week one, and he’s fulfilled all our expectations. He would need to crash and burn in a serious way with the judges to lose.

Tonya Harding has been our big surprise. She may slide into second place, based strictly on the number of fan votes helping prop her up. America got her into the finale, and may get her into second place.

Tonya Harding has already won by exceeding expectations. ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Josh Norman deserves to place higher than third based strictly on skills. If he and pro Sharna Burgess were competing in a normal 12-week season, he’d have time to develop his impressive athletic skills into even better ballroom dancing, and get more fans behind him. Because of the short season, he may end up in third strictly due to unfamiliarity with fans.

It’s a finale where there are truly no also-rans, and the fans are the winners.

Read More: DWTS Cast of Champions

In the final week, ONLY viewers in the Eastern and Central Time Zones may cast their ‘last-chance” votes for their favorite couples during the live show via online voting at at and on Facebook at


Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.