One week after Tonya Harding was nearly eliminated on the “Dancing with the Stars” season premiere, the disgraced figure skater earned positive reviews from the judging panel … with the help of a bear.
Harding, with partner Sasha Farber, quickstepped to “Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson on Monday night. Harding chopped wood. There was a campfire. A man in a bear costume leaped out of bushes.
“All we need is [Leonardo] DiCaprio, and it’s turning into ‘The Revenant'” judge Bruno Tonioli said.
Harding, 47, received straight 8s from the regular three judges, plus a nine from retired NFL running back Rashad Jennings, a past show winner making a guest judge appearance.
Harding was one of five Olympians to make the final six with two episodes left in the 10-athlete season. Harding competed at the 1992 and 1994 Olympics and then was banned from figure skating for life for her role in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan.
Farber chose the “Redneck Woman” performance last week because he wanted to show “the real Tonya Harding that not many people know about.”
“Redneck woman is totally me,” said Harding, who has repeated that competing on the show feels like competing on Olympic ice again. “I drive a big truck. I cut fire wood. I hunt. I fish. I’m a country girl.”
Harding could become the third figure skater to win the Mirror Ball Trophy after Kristi Yamaguchi and Meryl Davis.
Kerrigan competed on the show last spring and finished sixth.
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World medalists Jade Carey and Riley McCusker headlined gymnastics action over the weekend as the World Cup circuit continued with an all-around competition in Birmingham, England, and an apparatus event in Doha, Qatar.
Carey won both the vault and floor events in Doha, pushing her to the top of the standings on both apparatus (she also won the vault and floor competitions the previous weekend at the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan).
Doha marked the halfway point of apparatus World Cups, putting Carey in a promising position to qualify for the Tokyo Games heading into the next four events. The apparatus World Cup series includes a total of eight competitions spread over two seasons, and one gymnast per apparatus will qualify for the Olympics based on his or her top three results across the eight events.
Carey, 18, was the 2017 world silver medalist on vault and floor. But she opted not to try for a spot on the 2018 World Championships team due to the International Gymnastics Federation’s rules that active team members who help their countries qualify team spots for Tokyo (as the U.S. women did in November) cannot earn individual spots. Carey, an apparatus specialist rather than an all-around gymnast, chose the World Cup route to keep open her options of qualifying individually.
McCusker, who was part of the U.S. team that won the world title last year, finished second at the all-around World Cup in Birmingham, posting the top scores on the uneven bars and floor. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist, won the event. Mustafina bounced back from a shaky showing last weekend at the World Cup in Stuttgart, where she finished fifth in an event won by Simone Biles. Mustafina, 24, is trying to qualify for her third Olympics after giving birth to daughter Alisa in June 2017.
The all-around World Cup circuit continues on April 7 in Tokyo, Japan, where two-time world all-around medalist Morgan Hurd and two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak are expected to compete.
MOSCOW — Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.
Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.
Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.
Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.
Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.