Go ahead and say it – Jennifer Grey is having the time of her life.
Jennifer put the finishing touches on her nearly perfect run on “Dancing with the Stars,” as the former “Dirty Dancing” beauty captured the mirrorball trophy as the Season 11 champ!
On her way to the title, Jennifer strung together an impressive run of perfect scores, garnering five consecutive perfect 30 out of 30s during the semifinal and final rounds on Monday and Tuesday night.
The streak was broken with a 29 out of 30 on her final dance – an “instant” cha cha cha – but it wasn’t enough to keep the title out of her hands.
Kyle Massey and partner Lacey Schwimmer were runners-up, and Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas finished in third place.
The victory also marked a special achievement for pro partner Derek Hough, who became the first “Dancing” pro to nab three mirrorball trophies (he previously won in Season 10 with Nicole Scherzinger and Season 7 with Brooke Burke).
“All we wanted to do for the final was go out there and do our best and just make sure we knew we did our best and that’s really what it’s about,” Derek told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson following Monday’s show
The show kicked off with this season’s eliminated “Stars” and their professional partners, along with the three remaining finalists, performing a group number. However, absent from the show were Audrina Patridge (who Brooke Burke said was too sick to take part in the finale) and Michael Bolton, who was performing tonight in London.
Once it was time to hit the dance floor, each of the three final teams got to pick their favorite routine from the season to give it another go.
However, instead of scoring each dance as they have all season on a range of 1 to 10, each judge simply ranked the three performances, giving the best a 10, second place a 9 and third place an 8, after all three “Stars” performed their favorite routines, with the combined ranking then counting as the finalist’s score.
For Kyle and Lacey’s personal favorite, after debating during rehearsal, they opted for the Argentine tango, a dance at which they previously excelled, which helped vault Kyle into contention earlier this season.
Bristol and pro Mark Ballas also opted for the Argentine tango, bringing back their “Rock Week” routine to Orianthi’s “According to You.”
“This is the dance that showed us Bristol the fighter!” judge Bruno Tonioli said following the performance. “More focus. More confidence. You found your footing. You earned your place in the finale through this, because you’ve always been a clean dancer, but your performance level started to develop with the tango.”
“There was a new command you showed last time, but it was even bigger and broader this time,” Carrie Ann Inaba said.
Lastly, Jennifer and Derek chose to take on their very first dance of the season together – the Viennese Waltz to “These Arms of Mine” – a song from her “Dirty Dancing” days with the late Patrick Swayze.
“It was a mix of ease and elegance,” judge Len Goodman told the actress. “It’s an irresistible force. You are the complete package.”
When it was time to vote on the “favorite” numbers, Kyle received a 9 from Carrie Ann and Bruno and an 8 from Len, for a score of 26.
Bristol and Mark received an 8 from Carrie Ann and Bruno and a 9 from Len, for a score of 25.
With no 10s handed out to the first two performers, that meant they were all leftover for Jennifer and Derek, who once again earned three 10s for a perfect 30 – her fifth consecutive perfect score over the past two weeks.
The three teams then headed backstage to rehearse their final dance – an “instant” cha cha cha, a song for which they did not receive the music until the show began.
All three teams performed to the same song – Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” with all three dancers receiving rave reviews from the judges. When it came to the scoring, (which reverted back to traditional 1 to 10 scales from each judge), both Kyle and Jennifer grabbed a 28 out of 30, with Bristol not far behind, earning a 27. Carrie Ann and Len gave all three dancers a 9, while Bruno handed out 10s to Kyle and Jen and a 9 to Bristol.
It was then time for the final elimination – having combined the judges’ scores with viewer votes, it was Bristol and Mark whose journey came to end first.
“I have so many good memories from this competition. This has definitely been just a life-changing experience and I’ve had the time of my life,” she told co-host Brooke Burke following the elimination news.
It was an experience marred with criticism for the young mom, who despite consistently falling to the bottom of the leaderboard, was carried through to the finals on the strength of her fans’ votes.
Prior to Tuesday’s finale, Bristol spoke about dealing with the negative comments.
“I’ve never seen people this emotional about a dancing show and I think they need to remember this is just a dancing show and we’re just out there having fun,” Bristol told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson following Monday’s show. “People are going to say whatever they want to say and we’re used to it. My family is used to it and we all have thick skin.”
Following Bristol’s elimination, it was down to the final two – Kyle and Jennifer.
After three months of grueling practices, countless ballroom bumps and bruises and dozens of dances, Jennifer and Derek received the news they were officially the king and queen of the dance floor.
On the heels of her coronation, a tear-filled Jennifer admitted she wasn’t always guaranteed to perform tonight due to her injury.
“I didn’t think I was going to compete tonight,” she told Tom Bergeron, fighting back the tears. “I’m really glad I did!”
At the beginning of Tuesday night’s broadcast, Jennifer revealed Monday’s dances had taken a toll on her fragile neck.
“I really wanted to leave it all out on the floor last night, and I think we did, but unfortunately, I think I left a little piece of my spine on the floor and I ruptured a disk. But this morning, I went to the hospital… and we’ll see what we get tonight,” she explained prior to her final two dances, which helped seal her ultimate victory.
Also making headlines on Tuesday night was the intense security on the set for the finale. According to TMZ, there were increased security personnel – both uniformed and undercover, as well as bomb-sniffing dogs.
The show even reportedly issued Bristol her own bodyguard for the first time this season.
The ramped up security measures come days after the Hazmat team was called to the “Dancing” set after an unknown white powder substance was found in a package sent to the show. The substance was later found to be talcum powder.