"Dancing With the Stars" has never shied away from the world of sports in selecting its cast members, and Season 18 is no exception.
The list of competitors for the latest edition long-running ABC competition series was announced Tuesday, and it includes two ice dancers who just won Olympic gold in Sochi, a record-setting swimmer, a former NHL bad boy and a Paralympic team snowboarder.
But more about all those guys in a second. I seriously can't contain myself any longer about one person competing for the mirror-ball trophy this season. He may not be an athlete, but just the mention of his name will certainly send chills of excitement down the backs of every reader of this blog:
That's right! That oh-so-smooth scoundrel-turned-good guy from the "Star Wars" universe is going to put on his dancing shoes, strap on that sweet blue cape and show the rest of them how it's done in a galaxy far, far away.
OK, so I do realize that it's Billy Dee Williams, not his fictional character, who is actually competing on "DWTS." But ol' Billy Dee had some pretty smooth moves of his own -- you remember his Colt 45 commercials, don't you? Enough said.
Now, then, back to the athletes. Probably the biggest "get" in this group is the ice dancing pair of Charlie White and Meryl Davis, who became the first U.S. competitors ever to win gold in the event last month in Sochi.
Seems like a lot of their moves should translate well from one discipline to the other. Plus, former Olympians have done well on "DWTS" -- figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, speed skater Apollo Anton Ohno and gymnast Shawn Johnson have all won the competition, while figure skater Evan Lysacek took second.
Also, it should be interesting to see White and Davis actually competing against each other after 17 years as a team. (Expect new co-host Erin Andrews to explore that story line in depth).
Other athletes joining the cast: Diana Nyad, 61, who made headlines last year for becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage; retired hockey player Sean Avery, who played for the Kings from 2002-07; and Amy Purdy, a snowboarder who lost both legs below the knees due to meningitis.
Here is the whole cast in alphabetical order, with pro partners in parenthesis: SEAN AVERY (KARINA SMIRNOFF), CANDACE CAMERON BURE (MARK BALLAS), DREW CAREY (CHERYL BURKE), MERYL DAVIS (MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY), NENE LEAKES (TONY DOVOLANI), JAMES MASLOW (PETA MURGATROYD), DANICA MCKELLAR (VALENTIN CHMERKOVSKIY), DIANA NYAD (HENRY BYALIKOV), AMY PURDY (DEREK HOUGH), CODY SIMPSON (WITNEY CARSON), CHARLIE WHITE (SHARNA BURGESS) and BILLY DEE WILLIAMS (EMMA SLATER).
The new season of "DWTS" starts March 17, giving Purdy just barely enough time to compete in the Paralympics, which start Friday.
By Chuck Schilken - Los Angeles Times (MCT)
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