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Spoilers ahead for the Season 26 finale of Dancing with the Stars.
Dancing with the Stars has been a big success story for ABC over the years, and the all-athletes edition allowed the show to reinvent itself in a fun new way. This time around, the dancing stars all came from the sports sphere, and the entire season was much shorter, which raised the stakes in every single episode. When two couples were being eliminated each week, nobody ever really felt totally safe from elimination.
The three finalists to take the stage in pursuit of the Mirrorball Trophy in the Season 26 all-athletes finale were figure skater Adam Rippon and professional dance partner Jenna Johnson, NFL cornerback Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess, and former figure skater Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber. It was just about anybody's game in the finale, but we now know who the big winner this time around: Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson.
All things considered, there may not be too many viewers shocked by Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson's win in Dancing with the Stars Season 26. Although Johnson has only been a professional dancer on the series twice (including this season) and didn't place in the top three in her first season, she's clearly a talented performer. Throw in the fact that Adam Rippon was in Olympic shape as recently as February and is currently performing in Stars on Ice, he was always going to be in good enough shape to put on a great performance. He was also one of the most talked-about American athletes to come out of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
Jenna Johnson's dance skills combined with Adam Rippon's level of fitness, experience with choreography, and post-Olympics popularity meant that predicting Rippon as the big star winner of the Mirrorball Trophy was a pretty safe bet. I've been predicting a figure skater win ever since the cast of athlete dancers was announced, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Still, there's always suspense in a competition series like Dancing with the Stars.
Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson seemed like the frontrunners throughout the full first season, although the length of the season meant that anything could change pretty quickly. The elimination of his pal and fellow Olympian Mirai Nagasu was proof that even the elegant figure skaters weren't guaranteed spots in the finals. Josh Norman was a crowd favorite from the very beginning, so it wasn't too shocking that he made it to the end. Tonya Harding was a bit harder to predict, given that she didn't have the most sterling reputation prior to appearing on Dancing with the Stars. The movie I, Tonya brought her back into the limelight, and Dancing with the Stars has proven that she can still handle choreography.
Dancing with the Stars will return in the fall with a brand new season. ABC hasn't ruled out another all-athletes edition, so fans may get to see some more sports stars strut their stuff in pursuit of the Mirrorball Trophy. A Dancing with the Stars spinoff starring kids is slated to debut in the fall as well. There will be plenty of dancing in primetime on ABC before the end of the year.