Ten athletes will hit the ballroom Monday night as they compete for the coveted Mirrorball trophy on Dancing With the Stars. The special four-week event premieres Monday, April 30 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and will feature double eliminations every week.
Billed as the series' most competitive season yet, the competitors will work double time as they try to make it to finale night on Monday, May 21.
According to Gold Derby, this season will see voting open at the beginning of the episode and closing a few minutes after the last couple steps off the stage. Puerto Rico joins the entire U.S. in being able to vote this season.
If you cast your votes but later change your mind, you can change your votes on the official DWTS website at any point during the episode.
Toward the end of the episode, voting will close and votes will be tallied. Two couples will then be eliminated.
The season 26 cast of Dancing With the Stars: Athletes was officially announced on Good Morning America on April 13. Among the 10 athletes announced were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Johnny Damon, Mirai Nagasu, Chris Mazdzer, Josh Normon, Arike Ogunbowale, Jennie Finch, Tonya Harding, Jamie Anderson and Adam Rippon.
The show also revealed the 10 professional dancers returning to the lineup. The group includes reigning mirror ball champion Lindsay Arnold, along with Sharna Burgess, Witney Carson, Emma Slater, Gleb Savchenko, Artem Chigvintsev, Keo Motsepe, Alan Bersten, Jenna Johnson and Sasha Farber.
Retired NBA player Abdul-Jabbar will be partnered with pro Arnold; MLB player Damon will dance with Slater; Harding is heading to the ballroom with Farber; figure skater Nagasu is paired with Bersten; figure skater Rippon joins Johnson; snowboarder Anderson joins Chigvintse; Olympic luger Mazdzer will dance with Carson; softball player Finch is paired with Motsepe; NFL player Norman will dance with Burgess; University of Notre Dame women's basketball player Ogunbowale will dance with Savchenko.
Hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews will also return to their roles, while Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli are all returning to the judges table.
Bersten recently revealed that his spot on the show was threatened after he discovered a tumor in his neck. Thankfully, doctors were able to squeeze in a timely surgery to successfully remove the benign tumor, and Bersten is ready to put his dancing shoes back on.
Noticeably missing from the pro dancers lineup were Maksim Chmerkovskiy, wife Peta Murgatroyd and bother Val Chmerkovskiy. The three are currently out on their MAKS.VAL.PETA Confidential dance tour, which doesn't end until May 16, as previously reported in a PopCulture.com exclusive.
Murgatroyd apologized to fans on social media after having to remove herself from Saturday night's performance in Grand Prairie, Texas following a scary illness. She told fans she was nauseated all day and could "hardly walk" by show time and "couldn't feel my arms or legs." After sitting Saturday night out, she was back in action for Sunday night's show in Kansas City, Missouri.
Maks Chmerkovskiy's absence from the special four-week DWTS event further fuels rumors among fans that season 25, when he was partnered with Vanessa Lachey, could have been his last.
Fan-favorite Mark Ballas is also missing from this year's pro lineup, although he has taken seasons off in the past to focus on other creative projects, like when he starred as Frankie Valli in Broadway's Jersey Boys.