Paddlegate scandal hits Switch Up Week scores on ‘Dancing With The Stars’

Controversy erupted on social media over Nyle DiMarco and Sharna Burgess’s scores. Guest judge Maks Chmerkovskiy tried to explain. Are we buying it?


SAN DIEGO, April 18, 2016 – We have seen several wardrobe malfunctions on “Dancing With The Stars” over the years. But we’ve never seen a paddle malfunction in 21 seasons until tonight. Did Nyle DiMarco and Sharna Burgess lose points due to a mistake? Did it affect who went home this week? “Paddlegate” theories are swirling.

Switch Up Week is a hit or miss experience. Some stars struggle. Others find new ways to learn and shine. You can find out the results of Monday night’s show by scrolling down to the bottom of our column. For our performance reviews, keep reading.

Reviews in order of appearance on the show:

Wanya Morris opened up with Witney Carson in place of Lindsay Arnold, dancing a Tango. Wanya has been near the top of the leaderboard all season, but the judges weren’t as full of compliments as in past weeks. Carrie Ann Inaba commented on a lack of chemistry. Will this be a common these through the rest of the show? They scored 30 points, five less than Wanya scored in Disney Week.

Kim Fields and Keo Motsepe have a significant height difference. It didn’t appear to affect their lyrical and expressive Viennese Waltz, but it cause a serious divide among the judges. Len Goodman and guest judge Maks Chmerkovskiy criticized Keo for the lack of dance steps in hold. Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli loved the beautiful expression and storyline. Keo told them, “Sometimes this height difference was hard for me to create something there,” saying it was difficult in hold. Their score was 28 points – sixes from Len and Maks, eights from Carrie Ann and Bruno.

Doug Flutie and Peta Murgatroyd improved on his skills and his score. Photo: ABC
Doug Flutie and Peta Murgatroyd improved on his skills and his score. Photo: ABC

Doug Flutie barely escaped elimination last week. Dancing a Tango with Peta Murgatroyd was a real challenge, but he showed determination and he got through it. The judges were encouraging and liked this partnership and its chemistry. Bruno advised Doug to listen to the music, while Maks Chmerkovskiy told him to simply enjoy it more. He scored 28 points, which is his high score of the competition so far.

The partnership between Ginger Zee and Mark Ballas in place of Val Chmerkovskiy was also successful. Their sassy, sexy Salsa took judge Len Goodman “right to the club.” Ginger was at the top of the leaderboard in Week 4.

They received all eights for 32 points. It was a little early in the show for the judges to throw out nines.

Ginger Zee enjoyed a successful Switch Up performance with new partner Val Chmerkovskiy in place of Mark Ballas. Photo: ABC
Ginger Zee enjoyed a successful Switch Up performance with new partner Val Chmerkovskiy in place of Mark Ballas. Photo: ABC

Antonio Brown and Karina Smirnoff showed plenty of attitude which pleased the audience in their Cha Cha, but the judges said Antonio has been getting by so far on charm and natural style instead of improving his technical performance skills. They hit him with a low score of 26 points.

Antonio Brown and Karina Smirnoff found themselves in last place at the end of Week 5. Photo: ABC
Antonio Brown and Karina Smirnoff found themselves in last place at the end of Week 5. Photo: ABC

Paige VanZant and Sasha Farber struggled in rehearsal with their Rumba, but not on the ballroom floor. Once again though the judges were a little bit divided with Len and Maks critical of the lack of Rumba steps. But they pair didn’t fare too badly at all in their scores, with 31 points.

Lindsay Arnold created a country style Jive for the Texas native Von Miller. It was fun to watch and the couple seemed to truly enjoy themselves. Von missed some steps and his Jive steps, kicks and flicks were awfully flat-footed. The judges praised his personality but had to score for the technique, and he received 29 points.

Sharna Burgess knows how to adapt choreography and instruction around a star’s capabilities, as she did so well with double amputee and finalist Noah Galloway. She did equally well constructing a Viennese Waltz for Nyle DiMarco. He continues to impress everyone. The dance was fluid, full of exquisite technique, musicality, and emotionally moving.

The judges were moved to tears, and so were Nyle and Sharna.

It scored the first 10 of the season from Len Goodman – surprise! There was confusion over the rest of the scores. Carrie Ann Inaba gave him a nine, Maks and Bruno showed tens – but the scores were reportedly entered as nines.

So the final score was 37 points.

Notice the difference between the judges' paddles and the "official" score displayed.
Notice the difference between the judges’ paddles and the “official” score displayed.

Jodie Sweetin came off a rough Disney Week performance. So she had a lot of room for improvement dancing a Paso Doble with Val Chmerkovskiy. It was the perfect antidote and ended Switch Up week on a positive note. Judges loved the attack and the sense of purpose. They also praised the Paso and Flamenco contrast.

Jodie said she had a mental shift from last week to this week. “It’s just a dance!” she laughed. Loosening up really worked. She scored 35 points.

To the surprise of viewers, host Tom Bergeron announced there would be no elimination this week. Was it because of Paddlegate? Speaking with All Access host Dominic Bowen after the show, Jodie Sweetin said they were all relieved.

Her response seemed to indicate the stars didn’t know it advance either.

So what was up with “Paddlegate” as it’s now being called? Maks Chmerkovskiy told Dominic Bowden after the show Len Goodman wrote down his score and Bruno’s score for Nyle and Sharna incorrectly as nines; he said they were supposed to be tens.

Maks said it didn’t really matter in the end, and that Nyle is “head and shoulders” above the other competitors.

Maks explained his harsh critiques.

“The pros know exactly what I’m saying, exactly where I’m coming from. I try to find a golden middle between dancing and entertainment. Watch performances I said that weren’t good again, and compare them to performances from 21 seasons of dancing. I wasn’t trying to offend anyone, I’m trying to do my job as a pro.”

“Dancing With the Stars” returns for “Famous Dances Week” in Week 6 on Monday, April 11 at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time on the ABC Television Network. Join Communities Digital News for our Fan Chat, starting with the first dance!

Week 5 Results (original partner in parentheses)

Nyle DiMarco and Sharna Burgess (Peta Murgatroyd): Viennese Waltz, 9-10-9-9 = 37 points (up 3)
Phone: 800-868-3409

Jodie Sweetin and Val Chmerkovskiy (Keo Motsepe): Paso Doble 9-8-9-9, = 35 points (up 8)
Phone: 800-868-3405

Ginger Zee and Mark Ballas (Val Chmerkovskiy): Salsa, 8-8-8-8 = 32 points (down 4)
Phone: 800-868-3404

Paige VanZant and (Sasha Farber) Mark Ballas: Rumba, 8-8-7-8 = 31 points (down 5) points
Phone: 800-868-3410

Wanya Morris and Witney Carson (Lindsay Arnold): Tango, 8-7-7-8 = 30 points (down 5)
Phone: 800-868-3412

Von Miller and Lindsay Arnold (Witney Carson): Jive, 8-7-7-7 = 29 points (down 3)
Phone: 800-868-3411

Kim Fields and Keo Motsepe (Sasha Farber): Viennese Waltz, 8-6-6-8 = 28 points (down 4)
Phone: 800-868-3406

Doug Flutie and Peta Murgatroyd (Karina Smirnoff): Tango, 7-7-7-7 = 28 points (up 4)
Phone: 800-868-3402

Antonio Brown and Karina Smirnoff (Sharna Burgess): Cha Cha 7-6-6-7 = 26 points (down 9)
Phone: 800-868-3401

Voting information: Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite couples via phone on Monday nights during the show and up to one hour after the end of the DWTS broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at and on Facebook at is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and closing at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Tuesday evenings.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

Copyright © 2016 by Falcon Valley Group


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