Olympic figure skating legend Dorothy Hamill is withdrawing from ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” because of an injury.
Hamill, 56, made the announcement Tuesday night during the end of the first results show of the season.
Speaking with tears in her eyes, Hamill said she had nerve damage that could be “irreparable,” and added that she was withdrawing on the advice of her spine surgeon.
“I realized this isn’t just a muscle thing,” she explained after the show about the cyst on her spine. “It’s radiating down my leg and my foot and I have no stability in my ankle and I can’t pull my toes back.”
Hamill said she would miss her fellow dancers, and called her pro dance partner, Tristan MacManus, “a treasure,” but said it would be unfair of her to stay if that meant one of her fellow competitors had to go home.
“It’s been a wonderful ride. I wish I could stay but I can’t do justice to the commitment,” she said.
Hamill was one of 12 celebrities vying to the win the show’s season 16.
Tuesday night was to have been the first elimination of the season. Typically, the couple with the lowest combined total of judges’ scores and viewer votes is cut from the competition, but this time, no one was sent home.
Hamill had been safe from elimination Tuesday.
Lisa Vanderpump, who stars in “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” and world champion boxer Victor Ortiz were in the bottom two after the votes and scores for the first two weeks of competition were combined. One of them would have been eliminated had Hamill not pulled out.
“I’m so sorry. It was a hard night for all of us. My heart really goes out to her because she really, really wants it and she really fought against it all week,” Vanderpump said today on “Good Morning America.” “I became very close to her …I just love that woman.”
Vanderpump and Ortiz, along with their partners, said they feel fortunate to have another chance in the competition.
“It really did shake us up last night,” Vanderpump said about nearly being eliminated. “I had Victor gripping my hand saying, ‘I’m going to throw up, I’m going to throw up.’”
Ortiz’s professional dancing partner, Lindsay Arnold, said the duo would work even harder to impress in their next routine.
“Honestly after last night, I never want to be in that position again. We’re just so happy to be here,” she said on “GMA.” “We’re really ready to bring it next week.”
Hamill seemed to struggle during her performance Monday night. Dancing the jive with an injury that forced her to sit out several days of rehearsal, she lost her footing and made several mistakes. She ended up with the 15 out of 30 points – the lowest score of the night.
It was a stark contrast to her first performance during the March 18 season premiere, where judges praised her contemporary routine and awarded her 21 points, putting her in a three-way tie for second place.
In addition to Vanderpump and Ortiz, the following celebrities will return Monday to compete: Disney star Zendaya, country music stars Wynonna Judd and Kellie Pickler, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, NFL player Jacoby Jones , actor Ingo Rademacher, reality TV star Sean Lowe and comedians Andy Dick and D.L. Hughley.
Tuesday’s show featured live performances from Icona Pop and Josh Groban.