Watch Out, Mario: Kristi’s Taking the Lead!
Monday night judge Carrie Ann Inaba held up Mario -- and his 24 points -- as the standard to beat.
By Tuesday night, Kristi Yamaguchi had set the ballroom bar even higher. The Olympic gold medalist nabbed straight 9's from the judges and a standing ovation from the toughest, Bruno Tonioli, who called her dance with Mark Ballas "one of the best opening-night performances I've ever seen."
And while the skater said she had to break some bad habits and get used to pointing her toes, straightening her legs and wearing heels, her foxtrot earned raves for its smooth and elegant glide across the dancefloor.
"The ice maiden has just melted my heart," said judge Len Goodman.
Coming in second among the ladies on their first night was Priscilla Presley, who at 62 is the oldest contestant to grace the ballroom. As daughter Lisa Marie looked on, Presley, with partner Louis Van Amstel, dared a death spiral -- and landed it! As Carrie Ann put it, "Age is just a number."
Other standouts of the night:• Shannon Elizabeth's legs. Who knew the poker-playing American Pie vixen had gams that stretch from here to next week's paso doble?
• Marlee Matlin's cha cha cha. She may not have been able to hear the music, but her sense of timing was acute.
• Marissa Jaret Winokur's teeth. The girl can smile! A lot! Constantly!
The low point of the night:• Monica Seles's stiff foxtrot. She earned just 15 points from the judges, tying with Adam Carolla and partner Julianne Hough for the lowest rank. It might take some saucy Latin moves next week before the double elimination to save her "prom night."
Tell us: What were your highlights of the night? Who do you think is coming out the strongest?Bob D'amico/ABC