Kerrigan charms viewers during 'DWTS' debutTwo-time Olympic medalist looks at home with partner Artem Chigvintsev
As the sixth figure skater to take part in ABC's hit reality show Dancing with the Stars, Nancy Kerrigan knew expectations were high, and she did not disappoint on Monday night's season premiere.
The decorated figure skater -- who won the 1993 U.S. championship and earned two Olympic medals during her competitive days -- described her Viennese waltz with partner Artem Chigvintsev as "so fun" and "amazing." The couple received 7's across the board from the panel of judges.
While the atmosphere was certainly palpable, Kerrigan noted that it wasn't the same as the old adrenaline rush she experienced as a competitor.
"I would say it was more the excitement of doing something new and performing for the audience," Kerrigan said.
Judge Julianne Hough described the dance to Billy Joel's "Always a Woman" as "beautiful and so inviting" and complimented Kerrigan's arms. Bruno Tonioli said there was "nothing frozen" about the performance and told Kerrigan she "looked good." Carrie Ann Inaba noted that she was breathing along with the couple during their dance because they were so in sync. Len Goodman said, "It had flow. The movement was expressive, though it was a little bit rushed at times. You are a pairing with great promise."
Since the cast was announced in early March, Kerrigan and Chigvintsev have trained in Kerrigan's hometown of Boston, as well as New York and Los Angeles. They headed west a few days early in an effort to avoid the blizzard that pummeled the Northeast. With busy schedules, the entire cast was together for the first time Sunday night for camera blocking.
"The whole atmosphere is so upbeat, friendly and full of energy, so when you get the whole cast together, it is pretty exciting," Kerrigan said.
While time consuming, Kerrigan said she enjoyed the whole process of preparing for the live show.
"I thought the dress rehearsal went well," she said. "Unlike in skating, where we can simply mark my number in the dress, here I really had to do the full dance because it is all still so new to me."
Her mother, husband and three children, as well as several friends, were in attendance. They all celebrated after the show by going out to dinner.
Dancing second on the night allowed her to see most of the other couples perform, but Kerrigan declined to pick a favorite.
"I thought they all did a great job for the first week," she said. "It is not easy to learn these steps and movements, so to see it come together on live television was exciting. Big congratulations go out to each of the teams. They all deserve it."
While she did a bit of pairs skating as a teenager as well as some ensemble work in various skating shows, dancing with a partner is new to her.
"The timing of doing things with a partner is so completely different than when you are on your own that it makes the pressure a bit different," said Kerrigan, whose daughter is also a dancer, studying ballet. "I think that is what makes this so interesting."