Evan Lysacek battled back from the middle of the pack to challenge Nicole Scherzinger for frontrunner status on Monday’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
The men’s figure skating gold medalist asked his professional partner, Anna Trebunskaya, to push him in rehearsals in the last few days and the ballroom result was a sharp, dramatic and intense Argentine tango that left the judges stunned.
“Evan Lysacek has the eye of the tiger,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba raved after Evan and his partner performed, but it was British judge Len Goodman who was the most moved of the panel.
“I knew you were nice on ice, but I had my doubts that you were gonna be good on wood,” Len said. “But, I tell you, I’ve got a [score] paddle in here that I haven’t used yet. I’m gonna dust it off, because that was fantastic.”
The paddle Len referred to was the perfect 10, and added to the 10s from Carrie Ann and Bruno Tonioli, Evan and Anna end up with Season 10’s first perfect score – 30 out of 30.
While she didn’t net a perfect score with her partner, Derek Hough, Nicole did manage to move the audience, and her beloved aunt who watched from the audience, with an elegant waltz to “You Light Up My Life.”
“You are, by far, the best dancer we’ve ever had on this show,” Carrie Ann said. “You’re so good that you almost dance as Derek’s equal.”
Carrie Ann said, however, that Nicole didn’t do enough to be ‘like one’ with her partner, a unison style of movement the waltz needed, resulting in 9s from the judges for a total of 27 out of 30.
Round 2 of the competition, however, helped even out the playing field between Evan and Nicole.
Nicole danced as part of Team Gaga, as in Lady, cha cha cha-ing to “Telephone,” alongside Chad Ochocinco and his partner Cheryl Burke, and Pamela Anderson with her pro, Damian Whitewood. The sextet managed to impress the judges enough to add an extra 27 points to each of their pair dance totals.
The other three competitor pairs – Evan and Anna, Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, and Niecy Nash with Louis van Amstel – cha cha cha-ed to “Holiday” as part of Team Madonna, but only managed to pick up an additional 24 points.
The team round results, added to their pair dance scores, left Nicole and Evan tied, setting up a real toe-to-toe competition between the stars.
Meanwhile, Bengals receiver Chad and partner Cheryl finished the night in third with 52 points, while Pamela and Damian tied Erin and Maks for fourth, each scoring 51 points.
Niecy and Louis landed in the bottom spot with 49 points out of a possible 60.
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