'Dancing with the Stars' season 18 cast announced

By: Lauren Sher - Good Morning America
By: Lauren Sher - Good Morning America

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NEW YORK — "Dancing With The Stars" returns for its 18th season and the new crop of celebrity competitors may be the fiercest yet.

Fresh off their gold-medal win at the Sochi Olympics, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the dynamic ice dancing duo, headline the all-star lineup, along with "The Wonder Years" star Danica McKellar, comedian turned game show host Drew Carey, swimming legend Diana Nyad, and acting great Billy Dee Williams.

Former "Full House" actress Candace Cameron Bure, "Real Housewives" reality star NeNe Leakes, Australian pop singer Cody Simpson, and "Big Time Rush" actor-singer James Maslow are among the other celebs with their eyes set on the prized mirrorball trophy.

In two "Dancing" firsts, double-amputee snowboarding champ Amy Purdy, who lost both of her legs as a teenager and pushed to become a world-champion adaptive snowboarder, will be the first Paralympian to compete. Sean Avery is the first former hockey player in "Dancing" history.

In another surprise, pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the bad boy of the ballroom and favorite, will return after sitting out last season to much fanfare to dance with Davis.

The hit ABC show is shaking things up, from the replacement of host Brooke Burke-Charvet with sports host Erin Andrews, to the announcement of an unprecedented format in which viewers can vote to switch celebrities and their pro partners mid-season.

The entire celebrity cast was announced live today on "Good Morning America" from Glendale, Calif., ahead of the March 17 premiere. Tom Bergeron and new co-host Erin Andrews unveiled the celebrities and their professional partners, including reigning season 17 pro champ Derek Hough who will dance with Purdy, and beloved veterans Cheryl Burke, Mark Ballas, Karina Smirnoff, Tony Dovolani, Val Chmerkovskiy and more.

Watch the two-hour season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars," Monday, March 17, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Meryl Davis

Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis brings her gold-medal winning skating skills to the dance floor. Davis, 27, has been skating with partner Charlie White, 26, since 1997. While they won't be paired together on the show, the breakout Sochi stars will be fierce competition.

Charlie White

The Sochi star and second-half of the American ice dancing duo will trade skates his skates for dancing shoes this season.

Candace Cameron Bure

The actress, who broke out as a child star as D.J. Tanner on the hit '90s series "Full House," is also a New York Times best-selling author and mom of three.

Danica McKellar

Best known as Winnie Cooper on "The Wonder Years," the actress turned-mathematician and best-selling author for her line of "Math Doesn't Suck" books, brings her brains and acting chops to the ballroom.

Diana Nyad

The swimming legend, who became the first person to complete a historic 110-mile swim from Cuba to Key West in September 2013 on her fifth attempt, brings her determination and fearlessness to the competition.

NeNe Leakes

The breakout "Real Housewives of Atlanta" reality queen-turned sitcom actress brings her bold personality to the ballroom.

Cody Simpson

The 17-year-old Australian pop singer, who has amassed more than 12 million combined Twitter and Facebook followers and nearly 200 million YouTube views while on tour, and will now take to the "Dancing" stage.

Drew Carey

The stand-up comedian and actor, known for long-running shows, "The Drew Carey Show" and "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" went on to host "The Price Is Right," and brings his humor to the ballroom this season.

Amy Purdy

Double-amputee snowboarding champ Amy Purdy lost both of her legs at 19 to meningitis, and went on to become a world champion in adaptive snowboarding and a motivational speaker. She is the first Paralympian to compete in the show's history.

Sean Avery

Former NHL star Sean Avery is the first hockey player in "DWTS" history. Avery played left wing for the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, and the New York Rangers, and was known as his team's "enforcer" and for his unpredictable on-ice antics.

Billy Dee Williams

Dubbed the "black Clark Gable" for roles in "Lady Sings the Blues," opposite Diana Ross, and 1975's "Mahogany," the iconic actor has played numerous characters during his storied career, including scoundrel Lando Calrissian in the "Star Wars" trilogy.

James Maslow

The Nickelodeon star and "Big Time Rush" singer has headlined sold-out tours across the globe and may be a triple threat.

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