A tearful Tonya Harding said, “I don’t want to fail again,” while training for “Dancing with the Stars.” The disgraced figure skater didn’t, squeaking into the second week of the four-week season on Monday night.
Harding was the last of eight athletes to advance, while the Olympic champion snowboarder Jamie Anderson and retired baseball player Johnny Damon were eliminated (video here) on the premiere episode.
“It was the scariest moment I think I’ve been in in a really long time,” the 47-year-old Harding, who was banned from figure skating for life in 1994 after withholding knowledge of the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, said afterward to “Entertainment Tonight.”
Six of the 10 contestants on the all-athletes season of the show are Olympians — Harding, Anderson, figure skaters Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu, luger Chris Mazdzer and retired softball pitcher Jennie Finch.
Rippon and NFL cornerback Josh Norman tied for the highest score Monday with 24 out of a possible 30 points from three judges. Nagasu and Harding each scored 23. Mazdzer and Finch were next with 21 each.
DANCE VIDEOS: Anderson | Finch | Harding | Mazdzer | Nagasu | Rippon
“I need a Diet Coke, and I need more peanut M&Ms,” Rippon told E!.
At the end of the two-hour show, it was announced that two out of Harding, Anderson and Damon would be eliminated.
“I was like, no, lord please, don’t let this be the last dance,” Harding said to E!. “I’m finally learning how to be a lady and learning how to dance and I haven’t lost my last five pounds yet.”
Harding said she “felt like a princess.”
“I got banned in 1994 from skating, but nobody can tell me I can’t dance,” she said in a previously recorded training montage.
Anderson, the only female Olympic snowboarder with multiple gold medals, said she was “scared” and “intimidated” for her first dance. She scored 19 points, good for eighth place, just ahead of Damon and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Rippon, Harding and Nagasu look to become the third figure skater to win the Mirror Ball Trophy after Kristi Yamaguchi and Meryl Davis.
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MORE: Full list of Olympians to appear on ‘Dancing with the Stars’