DwtS 4 Preseason Power Rankings

Until we’ve seen them dance in Monday’s premiere, it’s completely impossible to predict how the cast of Dancing with the Stars 4 will fare. But that’s not going to stop me from trying.

Obviously,
the best dancers should stick around for a while, and most
of the uncoordinated oafs will be eliminated early. But talent
isn’t the only thing that matters on DwtS.

Here are my predictions for the order of elimination, before we’ve seen a single chasse.
Last season, I predicted Mario would finish ninth and Emmitt fifth. And
I picked Harry to win. So, while preseason prognostication isn’t my
strong suit, it’s still fun to guess.

11. Shandi Finnessey & Brian Fortuna
For whatever reason, a large chunk of the DwtS
fanbase has an aversion to voting for beautiful, blonde celebs
(e.g., Stacy Keibler, Shanna Moakler, Willa Ford, and Rachel Hunter). Regardless of how well they danced, these women all had trouble garnering audience votes over an extended period.

Shandi
Finnessey is a blonde beauty queen, which could make her Public Enemy
Number One. Unless Shandi dyes her hair, performs sans makeup and
wearing a burlap sack, there’s little that her partner Brian Fortuna
can do to save her.

How They Could Win: Unless Shandi proves early on that she’s as congenial as she is pretty, they probably can’t.

10. Clyde Drexler & Elena Grinenko
Before
appearing on the show, Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice were already
household names. Clyde Drexler might be a hit with NBA fans, but I’m
betting that most people don’t know much about him. If ABC wanted
someone over six-and-a-half feet tall, they should’ve cast Gheorghe Muresan. At least he’s been in movies.

Elena
Grinenko and Tucker Carlson were the first couple eliminated last
season, and I don’t expect she’ll last much longer this time. She’s beautiful to watch, but her skill will be overshadowed by her oversized partner.

How They Could Win: Charm might buy them a few weeks, but I doubt they’ll win.

9. Heather Mills & Jonathan Roberts
You don’t have to conduct any polls to know that fans of Sir Paul McCartney (you know, the British Peter Tork)
absolutely HATE Heather Mills. Heather will probably get a pass for the
first couple weeks, before the sympathetic — or morbidly curious —
lose interest and cast their votes elsewhere.

Jonathan Roberts
performed well in Season One, but he himself is not a draw. All he can
do is make Heather look good before their time runs out.

How They Could Win: If Heather’s fake leg flies off and knocks out Samantha Harris, earning Heather the respect of viewers everywhere.

8. Leeza Gibbons & Tony Dovolani
Are
there any hardcore Leeza Gibbons fans out there? In another season she
might have been a top contender, but she’s a comparative guppy in this
pool of c-list sharks.

After being partnered with a sub-par
dancer last season, Tony Dovolani should be motivated to go all out.
Any early trips to the Bottom Two could rattle his confidence, though,
and he’s not nearly so endearing when he’s grumpy — as happened near
the end of Season 2.

How They Could Win:
If their routines are especially exciting and Leeza is much more
engaging than her competitors off the floor (she has no shortage of
experience being in front of the camera), they might stick around a
while. But winning might be asking a bit much.

7. John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska
John Ratzenberger will be funny and likable, but haven’t we seen enough slow moving old dudes on DwtS?
They always seem destined to finish in the middle of the pack. Poor
Edyta. Didn’t she already pay her dues by dancing with George Hamilton and Evander Holyfield?

How They Could Win:
Sadly for Edyta, I doubt they can. Even if Ratzenberger wins over the
viewing audience, the judges will probably compensate by giving very
low scores in the later rounds.

6. Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough
Except
for the marquee events, I don’t even know what demographics watch the
Olympics, anymore. I generally see just enough to know the top
Americans in most sports — and which other competitors have cool
nicknames, like The White Sausage. Ohno is no sausage, but he has won a bunch of medals, so I (and, I suspect, most casual Olympic viewers) at least know who he is.

Julianne Hough is a new cast member who could make a big impression on fans. She’s cute as a button
and barely out of high school; every preteen girl is going to want to
be her. Don’t be surprised if your adolescent neighbors have Apolo’s
voting number in their Five.

Apolo’s
biggest hurdle could be finding enough time to practice. Because of
Ohno’s skating schedule, he’s had only a couple weeks to get ready.

How They Could Win:
Apolo & Julianne are my sleeper pick this season. If they’re cute
and endearing — and he picks up the moves quickly — there’s a chance
they could sneak their way to the top.

5. Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Laila
Ali is beautiful and she could beat the crap out of you. On top of
that, there’s a chance that her famous dad might show up for a taping
of the show.

But she’s paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. I’m not
saying that Maks is the world’s hunkiest albatross, but he’s placed in
the Bottom Two during the first episode of each season he’s been on.
And despite subsequent strong performances, he and his partners have
always been eliminated before their season’s token old men. Here’s
hoping he breaks that curse this season.

How They Could Win:
Sexy routines, perfect execution, and positive attitudes. If they can
avoid the Bottom Two for the first few weeks, consider them contenders.

4. Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff
BRC
is a country star with a show on the Disney Channel. A built-in fanbase
like that should be the kiss of death for his competitors. But there
could be some backlash against last season’s trend, when country star
Sara Evans enjoyed massive audience support, despite her poor dancing.
Billy Ray might not be able to win over the new fans he needs to take
the trophy. Then again, he might… if he promises to regrow his once-fearsome mullet.

Karina
Smirnoff is an amazing dancer, and I’m excited to see how she adjusts
to a celeb who’s not a ringer. But her cranky demeanor last season
rubbed some show fans the wrong way. Also, I’m scared she’s going to
work some stupid line dancing gimmick into their early routines. An
excess of boot scooting would be a major turn-off.

How They Could Win: ABC threatens to air nothing but Hannah Montana marathons on (fellow Disney affiliate) ESPN unless Cyrus gets the trophy.

3. Paulina Porizkova & Alec Mazo
Paulina
Porizkova & Alec Mazo are hands-down the most attractive couple in
the cast. I’d be content to watch them shovel crap. If they get
eliminated early, maybe they can guest host an episode of Dirty Jobs. Paulina’s modeling experience should lend their performances a poise that the other female celebs may lack.

Except
for the first season, female celebrities haven’t fared nearly as well
in the voting as their male counterparts have (and Kelly Monaco’s
victory was challenged in a rematch). Hopefully, Paulina and the other
women will get a fairer shake this time, but I’m not optimistic that a
female celebrity will win Dancing with the Stars.

How They Could Win:
If female fans can resist the urge to vote for the cutest male
celebrity, no matter what, then Paulina & Alec have a great chance.

2. Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson
As a former member of ‘N Sync, Joey Fatone has the same boy band experience that helped Drew Lachey win DwtS 2.
Joey’s used to playing to a live audience, he has some dance
experience, and, if his promotional photos are any indication, he’s
having a great time. That’s always the key to winning fans’ hearts.

Joey
also has a great partner. Kym Johnson was able to make Jerry Springer
look like a good dancer, so she’s sure to do an incredible job with a
partner 30 years Jerry’s junior.

So why don’t I think they’ll win? See couple number one below.

How They Could Win: Joey & Kym are so undeniably happy and fun to watch that the audience can’t help but vote for them.

1. Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke
Sorry,
Ian. The reason you’re ranked first has little to do with you, and
everything to do with your partner. Cheryl Burke has led her partners
to victory the last two seasons, and I’m not about to challenge
historical precedent.

Frankly, I’m surprised producers didn’t
pair Cheryl with someone over 60 just to level the playing field. As
long as Cheryl sticks with her winning formula — playing to her
partner’s strengths and enabling him to look effortless in sometimes
cheeky routines — Ian is a heavy favorite to win this season’s trophy.

How They Could Lose:
They’re at risk if Ian moves like a gorilla or acts like one in his
interview segments. They shouldn’t be an early boot, no matter what,
but Ian should work at being the most charming guy out there. Time to
flash that
Steve Sanders smile.

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