Simone Biles winked at Laurie Hernandez before her first performance on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Then she channeled her “inner Laurie” and posted the highest score of the 12 contestants on the season premiere Monday night, 32 points out of 40.
A great start for Biles, who is looking to follow Hernandez and make it back-to-back gymnasts to lift the Mirrorball Trophy later this spring.
Biles, the last contestant to go, performed a tango with partner Sasha Farber that drew rave reviews from judges.
“You guys are the power couple,” Carrie Ann Inaba said as Farber lifted Biles off the floor and the gymnast giggled. “That was an exquisite exhibition of technique, elegance and power all wrapped together in a crunchy, yummy tango.”
Len Goodman called it, “the dance of the night.”
“You are the whole package, your frame, your posture, your footwork, your Sasha,” Julianne Hough said. “You guys are the dynamic duo.”
Farber said Biles was so nervous before their dance that she didn’t speak in the preceding minutes backstage.
“I would rather do [balance] beam,” Biles said afterward, noting she took off her heels pretty quickly after the show.
Earlier Monday, two-time Olympic figure skating medalist Nancy Kerrigan scored 28 points with partner Artem Chigvintsev. Kerrigan tied for the third-highest score of the night.
Judge Bruno Tonioli said Kerrigan’s waltz made him feel “enveloped by a luxurious cashmere shawl.” The panel told Kerrigan she needed to improve on her footwork, eyes and leg extension.
“I’m sad that now it’s done because it’s gotten better and better,” she said. “Finally, it was feeling pretty good. Now it’s done. So I’m excited to do next week.”
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