“Dancing with the Stars” is anyone’s game.
On Monday night’s final competition show of Season 10, ESPN’s Erin Andrews showed off her competitive spirit with partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, as the two battled their way from the bottom of the leaderboard to a tie for first with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger and her partner, Derek Hough.
Erin and Maks came out strong from the show’s opening dance – a samba that was full of gyrations, ruffles and sex appeal.
“Because this is the final, that doesn’t mean our demands aren’t any less. In fact, they’re more,” British judge Len Goodman said. “The improvement from last time you danced the samba is fantastic.”
Bruno Tonioli, who helped coach Erin on her samba technique over the last week, was also thrilled.
“We wanted fun, we got it,” he raved as the pair took home the highest individual dance score of any pair on Monday – a 29 out of 30.
Erin and Maks took a risk with their second number.
Instead of freestyling with a mash up of ballroom moves, the pair did a “contemporary lyrical freestyle,” as Erin explained, which was carried out in part, atop a bed in the middle of the dance floor.
The dance, which Maks said in a rehearsal clip told “the story of Erin and I,” brought the ESPN presenter to tears, but it got mixed reviews from the judging panel.
“Freestyle’s about risk and reward. You took an enormous risk,” Len said. “In parts you pulled it off. It was a mix for me of emotion and commotion. I liked it, but I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t love it.”
“I loved the choice,” Carrie Ann Inaba raved as the pair netted another 26 points for a grand total off 55 out of 60 for the night. “I just think it was the perfect choice for you to make.”
Nicole and Derek weren’t ready to roll over, however.
The competitive pair first hit the ballroom with a rumba that was out of the Pussycat’s comfort zone, but which she managed to master.
“I couldn’t take my eyes off any moment,” Carrie Ann said before noting that Derek had done a lift at the end of the dance, a move that hurt their score, knocking it down to 28 out of 30.
The pair’s second number also featured a stumble. During Nicole and Derek’s freestyle, the two had some trouble with an approved lift (they’re OK to do lifts in the freestyle section), which didn’t quite get off the ground.
”[When] you slipped on that last lift – oh! It killed me,” Carrie Ann said as the pair netted just 27 out of 30, for a tying first place score of 55 out of 60.
Evan Lysacek and his partner, Anna Trebunskaya, had their shakiest competition show in weeks as they fell to third.
Their first number set them up well – a 28-point scoring Viennese waltz, but their second – a kooky freestyle was wild and wooly and left the judges confused.
“Evan! You went demented,” Bruno exclaimed of the number they danced to Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose.” “I don’t know if I was watching ‘Footloose’ or screw-loose! You were jumping about. You [looked] like you were bitten by a tarantula.”
The pair took home 8s across the board from the judges for a total of 52 out of 60.
Show co-host Tom Bergeron confirmed the couples will all perform twice more for the judges on Tuesday’s Season 10 finale – moves that will count toward crowning the winner.
The votes from the public garnered on Monday night will make up half of each couple’s total score.
Ã¢â¬ÂªAlso on Tuesday night, the cast of Season 10, including Kate Gosselin, Chad Ochocinco and Shannen Doherty, will return to the ballroom to dance one last time.