Carson Kressley has been jettisoned from the ballroom. Sad news for many of his fans, including a few deeply entrenched in the world of ballroom dancing.
“I enjoy watching Carson, because he makes me laugh,” says Angela Prince, public relations director of USA Dance, the nonprofit governing body for ballroom dance in the United States. “He’s definitely not reserved. And he’s not the best dancer out there, but he’s giving it everything he’s got.”
But Mr. Kressley was the worst of the lot technically, and his low judges’ scores finally caught up with him. So who, realistically, has a shot at winning the contest?
Left to fight it out for the “coveted” Mirrorball trophy are TV lawyer Nancy Grace, activist Chaz Bono, talk show host Ricki Lake, actor David Arquette, USA soccer goalie Hope Solo, reality TV star Rob Kardashian, and Army veteran turned soap opera actor J.R. Martinez.
No clear front-runner had emerged in early weeks. But now, halfway through the competition, it’s down to two stars, Ms. Prince says.
“Both Rikki Lake and JR are amazing, and they have great coaching," says Prince, who is an amateur competitive ballroom dancer herself. "My guess might be JR, if he continues to perform consistently. He’s got great instruction, and great partner in Karina Smirnoff.”
Ms. Smirnoff is Mr. Martinez’s professional dance partner and a member of USA Dance, as are about three quarters of the show’s professional dance partners.
“But Ricki Lake is dancing beautifully,” Prince adds. “The kind of technique she has, the lines of her body … that’s difficult to achieve if you’re a nondancer. It’s kind of a miracle.”
Oddsmakers suggest a similar outcome. The latest numbers show Mr. Martinez as the favorite to win the whole thing, at 2 in 3 odds, with Ms. Lake following closely behind at 3 in 2. Ms. Solo is at an 11 in 1 probability of winning, while Nancy Grace’s chances are pegged at a scant 100 in 1 shot.
Neither Lake nor Martinez were preseason favorites. Oddsmakers had both of them finishing near the bottom of the pack, behind Rob Kardashian, Hope Solo, and David Arquette, as well as all of the contestants that have been eliminated thus far (Kressley, Elisabetta Canalis, Kristin Cavallari, Chynna Phillips, and Ron Artest).
USA Dance has an intimate relationship with the show, and a vested interest in seeing it continue to do well. Since Dancing with the Stars’ 2005 premiere, the organization has grown approximately 35 percent, and its fasting growing segments are youths and preteens. According to Prince, competition entries for that age group have nearly tripled in that period.