As extreme skier Rory Bushfield (pictured, with Baywatch‘s Nicole Eggert) said, “I don’t think any skier would be impressed if I got beat by a couple of actors.” So who, in the hilarious words of Joey Lawrence’s cohost Charissa Thompson, was crowned “the greatest celebrity diver of all-time in our first-ever Splash grand finale?”
Rory Bushfield! He defeated Eggert and Drake & Josh‘s Drake Bell to hoist the crystal Splash trophy at the end of what a relatively straight-faced Lawrence referred to as “the most electrifying diving competition on earth.” Bell finally managed to do an inward 1.5, but came up less than vertical on his entry and missed the final round by scoring 7s from both judges, reigning Olympic men’s 10m platform gold medalist David Boudia and USA Diving High Performance Director Steve Foley. Eggert made it through with a handstand somersault that scored 8.5s, and Bushfield, competing with a busted eardrum, averaged 9.25 for his double-double. That’s two back flips and two twists with a feet-first entrance. As Boudia pointed out, if Bushfield had added half a twist and half a dive to enter head-first, it would have been the dive Boudia did to win the gold.
After we counted down the Top 10 flops of the competition (Bell took top honors there), it was final dive time. Eggert opted to do a back double-double off the 7m — which she had never done before — and landed flat on her back. She asked for help to get her to the side of the pool as her daughter, who’d seen her mother botch a handstand dive in week 1 but soldier on, cried in the audience. Eggert managed to walk out by herself. (Perhaps you’ve seen the bruises that made news after the finale’s taping late last month.) We all knew Bushfield would win at this point, but as the judges noted, Nicole has proven that she has the heart of a champion.
For his final dive, Bushfield did a front 2.5 off the 10m. The audience, which got to choose the winner instead of the judges, made it official. Bushfield said he kept himself motivated during the competition by thinking of his late wife, freestyle skier Sarah Burke, the 4-time Winter X Games gold medalist who died in January 2012 due to a fall in the halfpipe during training. He was both likable and good enough that a second season of this show wouldn’t be dreadful — if the contestants were all athletes.