The “Dancing With the Stars: Athletes” semi-finals are officially here!
Week three of the shortened, four-week season kicked off on ABC Monday, and the remaining six contestants and their pro partners got ready for one of the fiercest eliminations of all time.
Additionally, four previous contestants returned to the ballroom: David Ross (season 24) as a guest judge, while Meryl Davis (season 18), Nastia Liukin (season 20) and Von Miller (season 22) served as mentors.
After dancing twice on the latest show — an individual dance dedicated to the Most Valuable Players in their lives, followed by a dance battle — three couples were eliminated, and only three made it to next week’s finals.
ET recapped all the dances, the most emotional moments, the eliminations and so much more live, as it happened. Check it out below.
Three pairs eliminated, while three move to the finals — here’s who’s safe!
7:00 PM: And now, the moment we’ve been waiting for all night… the couple’s heading to the finals are:
Adam Rippon & Jenna Johnson
Tonya Harding & Sasha Farber
Josh Norman & Sharna Burgess
Sadly, that means we had to say goodbye to Mirai Nagasu & Alan Bersten, Chris Mazdzer & Witney Carson and Jennie Finch-Daigle & Keo Motsepe.
Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess win final dance-off battle!
6:52 PM: In the final dance-off battle of the night, Chris and Witney were teamed up against Josh and Sharna for a Salsa to “WTF (Where They From)” by Missy Elliott feat. Pharrell Williams.
The match-up was also a close one (and both featured the heartthrobs shirtless!), but Josh and Sharna ultimately scored the win after a tiny mishap made by David Ross.
Adam Rippon wins over Mirai Nagasu in second Ballroom Battle Dance-Off of the night.
6:43 PM: Up next in the Ballroom Battle Dance-Off, Adam and Jenna competed against Mirai and Alan for a Jive to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”.
Although all judges agreed that it was a close competition and ultimately came down to their own preferences on style, Adam and Jenna ended up on top thanks to America’s vote!
Tonya & Sasha win the first round of the Dance-Off Battle!
6:32 PM: The first ballroom battle began with Tonya and Sasha competing against Jennie and Keo for a Cha Cha to “Dance” by DNCE.
The verdict? Tonya and Sasha win, although it was revealed Jennie and Keo won America’s vote by 60%.
Get ready to vote, as the Ballroom Battle Dance-Off is next!
6:26 PM: After the commercial break, the Ballroom Battle Dance-Off will begin!
Here’s who will be paired up, and what they’re dancing to:
Adam & Jenna vs. Mirai & Alan
Jive, “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry
Chris & Witney vs. Josh & Sharna
Salsa, “WTF (Where They From)” by Missy Elliott feat. Pharrell Williams
Tonya & Sasha vs. Jennie & Keo
Cha Cha, “Dance” by DNCE
Carrie Ann Inaba calls Josh Norman’s dance “impeccable.”
6:22 PM: NFL pro Josh Norman dedicated his contemporary dance to “Stand by Me” by Bootstraps to his four brothers.
“My brothers and I, it was pretty much a wolf pack,” he explained. “Never said this but, I do love them, I do care for them.”
Josh’s pro partner, Sharna Burgess, played up to his strengths, incorporating plenty of beautiful lifts and tricks into the routine, which were well-received by the judges.
“I liked it so much,” Len Goodman raved. “Well done.
“It was loving and it was reassuring, impressive,” added Bruno Tonioli. “It all was seamless.”
#TeamBackThatPassUp received a 36/40.
Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson receive the highest score of the night… so far!
6:09 PM: Adam Rippon continues to surprise us week after week.
Dancing a contemporary piece with Jenna Johnson to “O” by Coldplay, it was hard to tell who was the pro and who was the athlete — and we think it’s safe to say this has been his best dance of the season, thus far.
The Olympic figure skater’s dance was gorgeous, complete with Swan Lake-inspired moves and the most technically advanced lifts we’ve seen all night.
“My MVP is my mom. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as smart, selfless and as kind as my mom,” he said. “My mom sacrificed a lot for me to get me to the rink.”
“She was tough as hell on me, but she always supported me,” he added, including how grateful he was to have her support when coming out as gay.
“That was by far my favourite dance of the night,” marvelled David Ross.
Added Len Goodman, “It’s the best dance I’ve seen tonight. Well done.”
#TeamJustFriends received the highest score of the night, 39/40.
Tonya Harding receives her score.
6:00 PM: Following a commercial break, Tonya and Sasha received a total score of 33/40.
“It”s been truly amazing,” Tonya told host Erin Andrews of the support she’s received from the public. “Thank you America, from the bottom of my heart.”
Tonya Harding tears up while dedicating a dance to her late father.
5:52 PM: In the most emotional dance of the night so far, Tonya Harding and her partner, Sasha Farber, danced a heartwarming Rumba to “See You Again” by Tyler Ward, which she dedicated to her late father, Albert Gordon Harding, who died in 2009.
“When I lost my dad, I lost my very best friend,” she said in a pre-taped interview package. “I was definitely daddy’s little girl. My dad just gave me, 100 percent, unconditional love. He was always there for me.”
“When everyone was against me, my dad was still in my corner, no matter what,” she continued. “Dad, I love and I miss you… and this dance is for you.”
Featuring beautiful arm and leg extensions and photos of her late father, the whole dance came together perfectly. “There’s no more beautiful way to pay tribute to someone than with that,” Carrie Ann Inaba raved.
“That was very inspiring, very emotional and I’m very proud of you,” added David Ross.
Chris Mazdzer receives ‘outstanding’ review from Bruno Tonioli.
5:36 PM: Chris Mazdzer and his pro partner, Witney Carson, didn’t hold anything back this week.
Mentored by Von Miller, the two performed a Foxtrot to “I Got Rhythm” by Ray Chew Live, wowing the audience by at one point dancing atop a piano.
Chris dedicated the dance to his mother, Marty Lawthers. “My mom is a super fan of the show,” he gushed. “She loves everything about the show!”
“She’s always been there for me,” he added. “She has been there for everything.”
Bruno Tonioli seemed to be a big fan of the “outstanding” dance, saying he was “razzle dazzled by that Foxtrot!” Carrie Ann Inaba, however, pointed out that Chris appeared to be a bit “nervous,” while guest judge David Ross joked, “Coming from a baseball player, great catch!”
#TeamMoveItOrLugeIt received a total score of 33/40.
Jennie Finch-Daigle shares her love story through dance.
5:22 PM: Jennie Finch-Daigle and her partner, Keo Motsepe, were the second pair to hit the ballroom floor, dancing a beautiful Viennese Waltz to “The Rest of Our Life” by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
The two were mentored by Nastia Liukin, with the Olympic softball pitcher dedicating the routine to her husband, Casey.
“I love this song. It fits and I think immediately of my husband,” she shared in an interview ahead of the dance. “When we said ‘I do,’ it meant for the rest of our lives. We’re in this together.”
“Casey has such a good heart, it’s golden,” she added. “I’m so thankful for him.”
Len Goodman loved the “ease and elegance” of the dance, while Carrie Ann Inaba said she embodies what the competition is all about.
“You’re one of the people that would thrive in a longer [season],” she added.
#TeamPitchPerfect received 29/40.
Mirai Nagasu is a golden goddess in first performance of the night!
5:05 PM: Mentored by fellow Olympic figure skater Meryl Davis, Mirai Nagasu and her partner, Alan Bersten, kicked off the night strong, with a high-intensity routine and matching gold costumes!
The two danced a quickstep to a version of Fifth Harmony’s “Bo$$”, incorporating fast footwork and plenty of smiles.
The dance was dedicated to Mirai’s mother, Ikuko, who she says inspired her to become a figure skater. “My mom was always the one who drove me to the rink and to school,” she explained in an emotional pre-taped interview package.
The performance received a raving review from all the judges, especially Bruno Tonioli, who described it as “great, light and buzzing.”
#TeamFireIceAndSpice set the bar high with a score of 35/40.