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'Dancing With the Stars' Season Finale Recap: The Winner Is ...

by Katy Kroll, posted May 25th 2011 2:35AM
Three final dances, three perfect scores ... and just one mirrorball trophy.

In what might have been the most evenly matched season ever, it was anyone's trophy to take home on the finale of 'Dancing With the Stars.' And indeed there was a shocker -- at least when it came to the top two.

Going into the season 12 finale, Hines Ward and Chelsea Kane seemed like the clear front-runners, with Kirstie Alley trailing behind them by five points after Monday night's performances.

But, as always, the freestyle challenge was a game-changer and the person I hoped would win wound up coming in third.

In the end, Hines walked away the winner, holding that mirrorball trophy triumphantly over his head alongside partner Kym Johnson.

His win wasn't surprising at all, as he's been the highest-scoring fan favorite week after week. What was shocking was that Chelsea wasn't Hines' closest competition -- it was Kirstie who wound up the runner-up, with Chelsea left to settle for third. (No one predicted that!)

With a two-hour show to fill, there was a lot of fluff leading up to the big announcement. All the season's castoffs returned (from "Psycho" Mike Catherwood to Ralph Macchio), performing one last time in front of a live audience.

Some of them reaffirmed why they were given the boot (hello, "Psycho" Mike and Sugar Ray Leonard) while others showed off skills that should have maybe landed them in the top three (see: Romeo and Ralph).

There were also performances by the Black Eyed Peas, The Go-Go's, Sarah Evans and "surprise guest" Josh Groban. (They've been touting this big "surprise" for a week, making me think Britney Spears or someone like that was going to show up ... so Groban just seemed like a letdown.)

Aside from the winner announcement, the main attraction of the night was the top three's final performances. It was dancers' choice, with the judges doling out their last critiques and numbered paddles.

Chelsea and partner Mark Ballas chose to revisit their week four 'Harry Potter'-themed "wizard waltz" that split the judges but wowed fans with their willingness to push boundaries. They once again nailed it, and the judges upped their previous scores to a set of perfect 10s.

Then, Kirstie and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy decided to do their very first dance, the lively cha-cha-cha that shocked everyone with how light on her feet Kirstie was despite her age and weight.

It was interesting that they didn't redo one of the dances that they really flubbed, but the actress wanted to show off her new, svelte form. (She claimed they had to cut the original dress in half since she had lost so much weight over the past 10 weeks, and she definitely looked great.) In a surprise move, the judges rewarded her with a perfect score.

Finally, it was Hines' turn to shine with his booty-bouncing week three samba, which was probably the first dance that set him apart from the rest of competition. (Both the judges and viewers love some "hip action.") And -- shocker! (not) -- he scored all 10s too!

So wait, let me get this straight, they had the dancers perform one more time so that they could wind up in a three-way tie? Really, what was the point?

Except ... the judges' generous scoring may have stolen the runner-up status from Chelsea, pushing Kirstie into the final two. (Unlike Hines and Chelsea, who each dominated the leaderboard multiple times, it was the first time Kirstie came out on top.)

When Chelsea got picked off first, there was a brief moment where I thought Kirstie might actually have a shot at winning. She certainly stole the show this week with her ballsy freestyle, and such an unexpected win would make for good headlines. But then I snapped back into reality and, indeed, Hines was crowned the winner.

It was a win you could see coming from a mile away. Since week one, the judges fawned all over the footballer. In fact, there wasn't a single week that they had anything negative to say about him, despite the fact he always played it safe and never really improved much. He started off good, and stayed that way; never quite reaching the precision "wow" status Chelsea and Mark achieved.

If you ask me, Chelsea was robbed, especially since the judges went out of their way to point out that she was the only one who never once missed a step ... ever. But it's not just a dance competition; it's also a popularity contest. And Hines had a million-dollar smile and millions of football fans on his side while Chelsea was the little known Disney star that could.

The two seemed neck and neck for a while. But the Pittsburgh Steelers MVP got pushed over the edge last week, when he and partner Kym powered through an emotional dance after she suffered a "serious" injury. One perfect score and a few tears later, it was his competition to lose.

And he refused to loosen his grip this week, when he put on a perfectly pandering Superbowl-themed drumline performance that clearly got "Steeler Nation" on its feet and to the voting booth.

So, tell us ... did America get it right by naming him the newest 'Dancing With the Stars' champ?

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Anyone who didn't think Ward was the best, needs to his or her head checked

May 27 2011 at 11:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Chelsie and Mark were the best dance couple.

May 27 2011 at 11:00 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Christian louboutin

Christipher Meloni can't leave.he makes the show (SVU)


May 27 2011 at 10:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sandra L Clark

How sad that DWTS has turned into a popularity contest rather than a DANCE contest!! I thought the name of the show was DANCING with the Stars and not who is POPULAR with the fans. Clearly the real dancer ended up 3rd. Wasn't going to watch it this year and certainly will NOT watch it next year unless they change the name of the program to Which Star Can't Dance but Which Star is the most POPULAR. Clearly all Pro Dancers have to be disguted with this so called "Dancing" With The Stars program.

May 27 2011 at 1:38 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Christipher Meloni can't leave.he makes the show (SVU)

May 27 2011 at 7:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

CHELSEA, in my humble opinion was the better dancer and that was what I thought you were to vote on, not who was most popular

May 27 2011 at 7:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I enjoy the show. Ralph Maccio was better than Kerstie in my opinion. Chelsea was better than Hines, however she is only 22 and now has the recognition she needed to give her young career a big boost. Football stars are like hollywood lights...recognizable & popular. Kerstie is admired by many as the votes showed each week.
All in all I am satisfied.

May 27 2011 at 6:13 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

man f*ck chelsea and mark!!!!

May 26 2011 at 7:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

P.S. chelsea wasnt all that.. just cuz she young and bubbly.. get a grip of reality.. boohoo..go home cryin to mama.. tell her to make you sum bologna sandwiches and give you a pepsi followed by a cigarrete..

May 26 2011 at 7:22 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

peace out benches.. see yal next season...

May 26 2011 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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