Yamaguchi's mambo earns praise on "Dancing"

Olympian struts her stuff on ABC reality show

Kristi Yamaguchi and partner Mark Ballas danced a sexy, precise mambo, extending their lead on ABC's <i>Dancing with the Stars</i>.
Kristi Yamaguchi and partner Mark Ballas danced a sexy, precise mambo, extending their lead on ABC's Dancing with the Stars. (courtesy ABC Television, Kelsey McNeal)


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By Linda Przygodski
(03/25/2008) - Kristi Yamaguchi said on Monday night's Dancing with the Stars that her biggest challenge this season is getting over her shy side and just shaking her booty.

"When I hear someone say 'shake your booty'," explained Yamaguchi. "Well. It's just embarrassing. I'm usually a guarded person, more introverted. So, it's just a little embarrassing, intimidating."

If Yamaguchi indeed does have a demure side, it wasn't showing during her rousing mambo set to Gwen Stefani's "Hey Baby." The former champion figure skater, decked out in a black sequined dress and leopard gloves, brought down the house with partner, Mark Ballas, earning high praise from all three judges.

"I think the other contestants are going to have a really hard time beating you in scores because you are so precise," said judge, Carrie Ann Inaba. "It's so much precision, it just boggles me. Have you really never done this before?"

Yamaguchi's ease on the dance floor may relate back to her competitive past, she is used to training hard, and is certainly accustomed to the precision needed in elite figure skating.

"Fast, sharp, exuberant, you're right on it," judge Bruno Tonioli exclaimed. "For the second round [of dancing] you are just incredible."

For their effort, they received a nine from each of the three judges, for a total combined score of 27. In the first two weeks of competition this season, the scores from the first two dances are added together before the double-elimination. Yamaguchi and Ballas lead the group of celebrities and professional dancers with a score of 54 out of a possible 60.

Despite leading, Yamaguchi knows that there are a lot more dances to learn before she can become just the second female winner in the history of the show.

"It's a marathon, not a sprint. I just want to keep going."

Penn Jillette and Monica Seles were the first two contestants voted off Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday's double-elimination show.