Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Trending - ESPN Playbook [Print without images]

Monday, September 24, 2012
Emmitt, Helio, Shawn, Apolo are 'Dancing'

By Lynn Hoppes



With four athletes who are past champions competing this fall in ABC's "Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars," it won't be easy to pick a winner.

The dance elimination show has a two-hour opener at 8 Monday night, and one couple heads home on Tuesday night.

Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves, Olympic speedskater Apolo Ohno and Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson are the four athletes on the show. Other past winners out of the 13 competitors include Drew Lachey (Season 2) and Kelly Monaco (Season 1).

The competition style will remain the same. Each week couples dance live on Monday and one gets sent home on Tuesday. This will go on for about 10 weeks. Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke return as hosts, and the judges are Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli.

Former competitor Erin Andrews said it's not a slam dunk that the athletes will prevail.

"Everybody is years older. Their body has matured a little bit more, and most aren't even paired with their previous dancers," said Andrews, who finished third in Season 10. "I'm really hoping everyone has a good year. I'm glad these athletes came back."

Season 13 winner J.R. Martinez said he has an idea who will win this season.

"Look at the last three champions -- Hines Ward, me and then Donald Driver. What do we have in common? Look at our heads!" Martinez said. "If they really want to win, they need to shave their heads! Don't snap the streak!"

Let's look at the Fantastic Four:

Helio Castroneves



Castroneves was the Season 5 winner with Julianne Hough. This time he's paired with Chelsie Hightower. He hasn't had much time to prepare, as he just finished up the IndyCar season a week ago and is spending more time with his family. His first dance is the foxtrot.

Shawn Johnson



Johnson previously won Season 8 with Mark Ballas. This time she is paired with Derek Hough. It's not going to be as easy because she was never Ms. Personality, so she'll need to break out of her shell to have a shot. Her first dance will be the foxtrot.

Apolo Ohno



Ohno previously won Season 4 with Julianne Hough. He tried to get her to return, but she had other obligations. He'll be paired with Karina Smirnoff, who has a similar work ethic and Hough. Ohno will be one to watch. His first dance is the cha-cha.

Emmitt Smith



Smith won Season 3 with Cheryl Burke, and he has her back as his partner. That will be a huge advantage. Throw in that there are millions of Dallas Cowboys fans out there, and he'll likely be near the top of the standings most of the season. His first dance is the cha-cha.