Dancing With The Stars: Derek Hough Talks Freestyle Factor, Val Chmerkovskiy Calls Finals ‘Intimidating’

In the past, “Dancing with the Stars” has been won or lost in the freestyle round in the finals, but pro Derek Hough is hoping fans of the show consider the whole season when voting.

“It’s funny because they definitely say that – ‘It comes down to the freestyle,’ and it’s kind of a shame, in a sense, because the amount of work and the amount of thought that goes into the entire season and how hard we work on everything,” Derek told Access Hollywood as he and celebrity partner Kellie Pickler prepared for the finals.

“I definitely hope that people consider this season as a whole,” Derek added.

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Beyond talk of the freestyle, tonight will be Valentin Chmerkovskiy’s big chance to impress with his celebrity partner — Zendaya — as he hopes for his first mirrorball win.

The other pros dancing with celebs — Karina Smirnoff (paired with Jacoby Jones), Mark Ballas (teamed with Aly Raisman) and Derek, all have titles already.

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“It’s a very intimidating finale you could say, you know, for me as a pro,” Val told Access. “There’s six titles between the three other [pro] finalists. … There’s a vast amount of experience and knowledge. But, they don’t have Zendaya. They don’t have me. They’re great at what they do, I’m OK at what I do, and I just want to focus on that. I want to focus on the things I do have, not on the things I don’t. I don’t have the mirror ball trophy, but there’s a lot of metaphorical trophies that I do have. I have a lot of pride and a lot of love for Zendaya and for our team and if that translates into our dance, I think we’re going to be all right.”

The finals of “Dancing with the Stars” kick off tonight at 8/7c on ABC.

-- Jolie Lash

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