‘DWTS: Athletes’: There’s Only One Contestant Who Has A Journey This Season

by Kristyn Burtt | 5/15/2018 2:13 PM

Photo credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal


Dancing With the Stars: Athletes are heading into the finale after a mere four-week season. It’s been a frustrating one to watch for fans — especially after a three-couple elimination in the semifinals on Monday.


More: ‘DWTS: Athletes’: Let’s Hear It For The Female Pros!


The one major comment that has resonated throughout my social media accounts is that a four-week show does not allow for a journey, which I agree with. But for anyone who was shocked with Tonya Harding making it into the finals, you shouldn’t be. Why? Well, she’s the only contestant who had a journey this season.


She’s the one person who had everything to gain, whether it was a 10-week or a four-week season. Tonya started out the season as one of the most vilified people in the United States. Think about that — in the U.S.


Photo credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal


This isn’t a situation where Ryan Lochte is an Olympic hero for years, makes a very bad decision, lies about it and is then remorseful. His turnaround on DWTS was quick — he apologized, didn’t make waves on his DWTS season,  had a baby, got married and his story was rewritten.


For Tonya, she’s trying to rewrite decades of stories. Many people — including myself — were not thrilled with her casting. At the end of the day, we are here to judge her dancing and she’s had three solid weeks of that under her belt.


WATCH: Dance Network’s Interview With Tonya Harding & Sasha Farber


When I interviewed her after the Week 1 show, I had nothing but empathy for her because she’s trying hard to get the world to see the real Tonya. While I still think that there are apologies to be given and I think she needs to take ownership and responsibility for her past, she’s done everything asked of her as a DWTS contestant.


Work Ethic: Ask any DWTS pro and they will tell you it’s so much easier to have a successful season if the contestant comes in ready to work. While they have a level up if they can dance like Jordan Fisher, there are other factors that come into play — a great attitude, hard work and a vulnerability to the DWTS experience. Tonya checks off all of those boxes.


More: EXCLUSIVE ‘DWTS’ Clip: Adam Rippon & Jenna Johnson Slay “Occupational Charades”


Growth: When it comes to dancing, we’ve seen the softer side of Tonya and we’ve seen the stronger side of Tonya. The levels are there and she’s improved each week.


Viewers who are rooting for her are also drawn to her emotional side. She’s competitive, but she’s not afraid to show her feelings about participating in the show. We are watching a transformation of Tonya right in front of our eyes.


Sasha Farber: I think DWTS producers put Sasha in a difficult position as a pro because the challenge this season was almost impossible. He had to find a way to make America see Tonya in a different light.


Sasha has gone above and beyond that in how he’s approached the season with her. He’s been her coach, her cheerleader, her protector and her friend. He’s delivered dances that serve her talents and gotten her all the way to the finale — his first finale, too.


More: The Details You Need For Season 2 Of ‘World Of Dance’


I’m not sure every pro would have the grace that he has shown this season. Even if you are a viewer who isn’t rooting for Tonya, you have to know that Sasha did his job very, very well.


The journey is why Tonya is in the finals. She started at a disadvantage in comparison to many of the other contestants. You don’t have to agree with her casting, you don’t have to agree with her life choices, but you can see the reasons why she got to the fourth week on DWTS: Athletes.


Don’t miss the latest ‘To The Pointe Live with Kristyn Burtt’ featuring choreographer Derek Mitchell. WATCH HERE.

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