• Kristyn Burtt

James Hinchcliffe Is The 'Dancing With The Stars' Comeback Kid

Updated: Apr 1


While watching Dancing With the Stars tonight, I had to keep reminding myself that James Hinchcliffe is an Indy-car driver. He’s not a football player or a gymnast or an actor who is used to getting out there on a stage. 


More: Inside The 'Dancing With The Stars' Studio


I studied James' footwork in the Argentine Tango and his Jive trio — it was clean, sharp and looked like he spent weeks rehearsing those numbers. I was thinking about how his job entails control at the wheel and reacting to situations quickly in his mind, but there is very little footwork involved. 


He obviously read my mind because he later said on the show, “I sit for a living.”

James’ mental game has been strong all season. Even when he had a rough outing last week in his jazz routine, he was able to move through it, stay on track and finish on a high note. The pressure of racing on a track is no different than dancing live on TV in front of millions.


More: 13 Things We Learned from Season 23 of 'Dancing with the Stars'


His flubbed steps were uncharacteristic for him and you could tell he was bummed his mistakes kept him at the bottom of the leaderboard. However, he’s a competitor who doesn’t let the mental game get to him, he comes back fighting. 


That’s exactly what he did this week. He had Sharna Burgess back in his arms, while he took command of a challenging routine while she was blindfolded. Even though we all know how capable he is out there on the dance floor, this was his comeback.

James started in this competition as a charismatic, but good competitor. He’s finishing out this season vying for that Mirror Ball Trophy. Laurie Hernandez was the odds-on favorite to win this competition, but James has easily made a strong case for the title. 


More:  'Dancing with the Stars': Let's Talk About Laurie Hernandez


Here’s what it’s going to come down to for these two worthy opponents — choreography. It’s up to Sharna and Val Chmerkovskiy to create the freestyles of their careers. I give Sharna the edge when it comes to creativity, but Val knows what it takes to win that MBT after getting his first trophy in Season 20 with Rumer Willis. 


I am not going to predict until I see those two freestyle performances. James described Sharna’s idea for the freestyle as “epic, moving and beautiful.” 


I haven’t heard any clues from Val or Laurie yet, but I expect he will put all of his muscle into this final dance. Laurie no longer has the distraction of the Olympics tour, so she can put her full energy into this final week. 


As we know though, it ain’t over until that freestyle is danced.

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