They only had four weeks to prove their mettle, so Monday’s finale of Dancing with the Stars: Athletes was particularly crucial for finalists Adam Rippon, Josh Norman and Tonya Harding. Each hoofer had to perform two dances, some of which earned perfect 30s while Rippon’s freestyle performance had Judge Carrie Ann Inaba feeling like “I was missing something.”
Did the off-beat number rob the Olympic medalist, who was always considered the favorite, of the Mirror Ball Trophy?
Nope. No way, no how.
Rippon lived up to expectations by winning the Mirror Ball Trophy. How did he feel? Who knows? The one-hour show had to end before host Tom Bergeron got a victory quote.
It was a fast and exhausting night for the performers because each of the finalists had to perform two dances.
Harding and her partner Sasha Farber began with a Viennese waltz that had Judge Bruno Tonioli saying, “You dance as if a weight has been lifted from your heart” while Len Goodman said she performed with “elegance and sophistication.” Her second dance was an ‘80s-themed freestyle to the tune of “I Will Survive” that involved lots of cartwheels for the ex-skater. “I was here to prove that I belong here,” Harding said. It worked: Her dance earned a 30.
After declaring in the rehearsal package that it’s been strange to be “shirtless every week for millions to see,” Josh Norman danced a foxtrot with Sharna Burgess that earned a 27 before, ahem, he took his shirt off for a freestyle number that looked like a massive NFL workout. “There’s no way you are the underdog in this final,” Goodman said. “I love the whole drama of it, the power you put in it. It was great.” Norman also earned a 30.
Rippon’s first jazz dance with Jenna Johnson got the audience on their feet for ovation, with Inaba calling them the “wonder twins of dance.” It earned a 30. Then Rippon and Johnson performed an odd, Asian-techno freelance number that had Inaba saying, “I felt like I was missing something.” Still, it earned a generous 28 — and ultimately led to his win.
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