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'Dancing With the Stars' Recap: Week Nine Performances

by Katy Kroll, posted May 17th 2011 1:40AM
Go Big or Go Home was the unofficial theme of the semi-final showdown, and with the contestants having to do three dances each, it may have been the wildest night of ups and downs yet.

There were tears, butt pads, nip slips, unnecessarily nasty comments from the judges and jaw-dropping dances (both good and bad).

One thing's for sure, though ... we now have a clear front-runner: Hines Ward. And the chance of Ralph Macchio making the finals has all but vanished. The judges had their say and, unless there's a serious voter upset, the final three will surely be Hines, Chelsea Kane and Kirstie Alley.

The week's biggest drama played out during rehearsals, when Hines' pro partner Kym Johnson suffered a neck injury that sent her to the hospital. The footage that they showed of it looked horrifying -- while doing a tricky move, Hines dropped her, then fell on top of her, snapping her neck.

Despite how serious it seemed, Kym still came out and danced an Argentine tango and salsa with Hines as if nothing happened. At the end of the tango, though, it was clear the incident had taken an emotional toll on Hines, who had feared during rehearsals that he had paralyzed her. As soon as the music stopped, he broke down in tears, thankful they had made it through the live routine without incident. (Well, except for Kym suffering a nip slip at the end of the performance!)

The judges gave them both serious kudos for pulling off a flawless dance despite the emotionally draining injury. Not surprisingly, Hines scored the first triple 10s of the season. And let's just say that a perfect score plus his tears and her ability to power through the pain basically just won them the competition. It's his mirrorball trophy to lose now.

But don't count out Chelsea -- she and partner Mark Ballas have been surprisingly inventive and spot-on week after week. In fact, Mark has easily replaced an absent Derek Hough as the most innovative and precise pro on the show. (Did anyone else notice he was wearing a band on his ring finger all night? What's that all about, hmm?)

While the judges were a little harsh after her first dance (yet still gave her two nines and a 10), they fawned all over her and gave her perfect 10s in the next round. Then they all but secured her position in the top three by unanimously crowning her the victor in the first-ever "winner takes all" cha-cha-cha competition between the final four. She skyrocketed to the top of the leaderboard with an extra 15 bonus points. It was a big coup that could make the finale a real nail-biter.

With two of the three final slots clearly being handed to Hines and Chelsea on a silver platter, it all comes down to whether Kirstie or Ralph will be the last one to fill that dance card.

Sadly, after suffering a knee injury and skirting elimination last week, my boy Ralph seemingly danced himself right out of the competition with the worst performance of the night. If he gets the boot, it'll be a sad way to see him go out.

All season he has been struggling with his virtually non-existent "hip action" and "creepy spatula" hands, and they both really bit him in his padded butt this week. Yes, I said "padded butt." For a truly ridiculous '70s porn-themed salsa, he actually wore padding in his pants to make him have a bigger behind. 'Nuff said? No. Because there were more cringe-worthy moments packed into his 90-second dance.

Wearing a big ol' gold chain with a giant money sign and some sort of shiny leisure suit, he looked like a train wreck on the dance floor. And the fact that his partner, Karina Smirnoff, had a ginormous head of curly hair and a slinky cat suit on as she crawled across the floor didn't help one bit.

But it was no reason for the judges to be as nasty as they were with their comments. Ralph has proved he has skills, heart and determination, yet they ripped him to shreds. Bruno Tonioli was by far the worst, cruelly pointing out that he looked like he had on "extra large diapers" and calling Karina a bleeped-out derogatory word, then backpeddled by trying to make it seem like he was saying she was a sexy "pussycat."

It came across as a blatant swipe at the fact that she did a nude photo spread for Playboy, which I have been fretting would hinder Ralph's chances at making it to the top. But that's the least of his worries now, as it will take an absolute miracle for him to get another free pass during the next elimination based on this week's dances alone.

With their constant knocking of Ralph, the judges made it clear they want Kirstie to make it to the finals by heaping praise on her good-but-not-great routines. She even earned a 10 for one, despite being really no better than Ralph on the dance floor. Also, like Ralph, she makes the most unnecessarily intense faces while strutting her stuff. But she's far more entertaining and a looser cannon than he is, which means bigger ratings for the finale in the minds of the producers.

So, my prediction: Ralph is out, leaving Hines, Chelsea and Kirstie to battle it out next week.

What do you think? Take our poll and sound off below!

'Dancing With the Stars' airs Mondays at 8PM ET and Tuesdays at 9PM ET on ABC.

Watch the full episode here:

Part 1

Part 2

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Bruno is a pig and now he's been disrespectful in two seperate seasons to two seperate stars. I'm tired of the show pushing Chelsea. Reminds me how they pushed Stacey Keebler on us. She's 20 and weighs 100 lbs. What is so spectacular about her being able to dance. No way she out-danced Hines. It's much more fun seeing how great Kirstie (at 60) is doing losing weight with the exercise and dancing so well. Also Mark is NO Derek. He's been trying too hard and while he's a good dancer, he lacks the charisma and fun Derek brings. I'm tired of the producers pushing a contestant no one knows (but Disney watching tweens). We've all known Hines will be in the finals and a much more fun ending would be a rockin with the oldies, but that just won't happen. Were the judges punishing Ralph because fans kept him on over Romeo? If that were the case Palin should have never made it to the finals. It's still fun to watch and I'm pulling for Hines all the way!! Great guy.

May 17 2011 at 8:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Christina Draper

I am with Gibson Family. Mark comes across as arrogant, and for some reason I just don't like watching him this year. And I am sorry, when you compare Chelsea to Kim (though perhaps that isn't fair) she comes across as stiff and like a little girl trying to be sexy. (What is up with her mouth? It drives me nuts!)

Kym Johnson is a pro, and her Tango last night, proves SHE is the choreographer to watch now that Derek is gone. Kym is able to come up with inventive and challenging routines without having to resort to cheap tricks (mark?)

Bruno is ridiculous, no matter what he says it sounds like he is sexually harassing people. And not sure what he said last night, but if they censored it, couldn't have been that funny. And Karina and Ralph looked very offended. NOT cool.

May 17 2011 at 7:57 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Gibson Family

I agree that the "instant" Cha Cha looked like a set up. Chealse was stiff and mechanical in her Chacha. Hines was so much better. The dance was the perfect way for the judges to use there partiallity to set up the finals the way they want. Bruno's vulgar comments are getting old and they should find a new judge. This is suppose to be a family show. It now needs an R rating. Mark Ballas is so smug and arrogant that he is hard to watch. Hines and Kym is such a class act and I really feel they should win. Their dances have been spot on every show and I am so glad Kym was not seriously hurt. Kirstie is very entertaining but so not in same level of talent. She will be third place. Hopefully Hines wins. We have to wait for the favorite Free Style dances to see who nails it. I think Ralph will go tonight.

May 17 2011 at 7:23 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Very interesting reading Karina's backstage interviews and her twitter. She is very aware that the judges dislike them and have from the very beginning. She also indicated that she's aware the instant Cha Cha was nothing more than a set up to keep Chelsea and mark in the finals. Their exit at the end of the results show tonight should be epic.

May 17 2011 at 5:02 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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