'Dancing with the Stars' injuries don't surprise Kristi Yamaguchi
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/30/2009
Kristi Yamaguchi isn't surprised that the injury bug has already bitten several Dancing with the Stars eighth-season celebrity participants.
"The injuries aren't surprising," Yamaguchi toldPeople in Los Angeles over the weekend. "People don't know how physical it gets. I think that's one reason why athletes do well -- they know how to listen to their bodies."
The injuries began before the eighth-season even premiered, as singer Jewel Kilcher fractured tibias in both of her legs and Access Hollywood co-anchor Nancy O'Dell suffered a torn meniscus in two places in her knee -- forcing both to withdraw from the competition.
Then within the first week of the competition, former Jackass and Dr. Steve-O star Steven "Steve-O" Glover and billionaire Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak were both hit with injuries -- as Steve-O was saddled with back pain and spasms caused by torn muscles while Wozniak was diagnosed with a fractured foot.
Most recently, The Girls Next Door star Holly Madison -- who replaced Jewel when the singer was forced to withdraw -- suffered a painful rib injury that is effecting her rehearsals.
Since Yamaguchi feels athletes are better equipped to handle the competition, it's no surprise she thinks Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson is a safe bet to take home the mirror ball trophy. It also doesn't hurt that Johnson is teamed with professional Mark Ballas, who won the show's sixth-season title with Yamaguchi.
"Shawn is focused and as an athlete, she is used to taking direction and easily coachable," Yamaguchi told People. "Mark is having a great time working with her and she's got great potential."
In addition to Johnson, Yamaguchi told People she believes actor Gilles Marini and jilted The Bachelor bachelorette Melissa Rycroft are the other "front-runners" to take home the eighth-season title, while rapper Lil' Kim and country singer Chuck Wicks are "dark horses."