After the first night of the Dancing with the Stars 6 Finals, Kristi’s perfect evening left her well ahead of the other competitors.
Cha Cha Face-Off
The first round of competition featured all three of the couples dancing a Cha Cha Cha to the same song: an extended remix of Lionel Richie’s "Dancin’ On the Ceiling." Disappointingly, nobody actually danced on a ceiling. The couples took turns dancing, with Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke performing first, followed by Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska, and Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas.
Len Goodman told Cristian he had "all the gear at the rear." Bruno Tonioli said Jason was "a bit off." And Carrie Ann Inaba told Kristi, "You won that, hands down."
Cristian & Cheryl: Carrie Ann…8, Len…9, Bruno…9 = 26/30
Jason & Edyta: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 24/30
Kristi & Mark: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30
Kristi & Mark
Julianne Hough stopped by rehearsal to give Kristi tips on doing lifts with Mark, and the advice paid off. The routine was full of cool lifts and tricks, including Kristi launching Mark into a backflip. The pair’s glittery pants and Moonwalk moves were a nice nod to their song, Michael Jackson’s "Workin’ Day and Night."
Bruno called the routine "an inspiring infusion of Mambo and hip-hop. Worthy of the championship, for me." Carrie Ann told Kristi, "You were the big crowd pleaser. Love it." Len said, "I’m not a lover of hip-hop. But for me, this held my attention from start to finish. I absolutely loved it."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30
Jason & Edyta
Jason’s physical strength was a real asset, as it allowed them to perform some impressive lifts. But his height hampered his speed, and Edyta spent most of the time in the spotlight as they danced to Will Smith’s "Miami." For a little voting insurance, Edyta ripped off Jason’s shirt at the end of their freestyle.
Carrie Ann said, "Edyta, it is so nice to see you here in the finals," adding, "The most ambitious lifts I’ve ever seen." Referencing the song, Len told Jason, "I can see us on South Beach, you in your Speedo, me in my thong." Bruno said (to Jason & Edyta, not to Len), "If you’ve got it, flaunt it. And the dance wasn’t bad either."
Samantha Harris repeatedly cut off Jason & Edyta as she spoke with them backstage, prompting Tom Bergeron to jokingly refer to the exchange as an "interview in Haiku."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…9 = 27/30
Cristian & Cheryl
Cristian kept hurting his arm during rehearsal, but he refused to cut any lifts from the routine. During the performance, the lifts were impressive because they were executed with one arm, but they didn’t reach the same heights as the lifts done by Kristi and Jason. Overall, it was a fun Latin routine that played to Cristian’s strengths.
Len said, "As far as I was concerned, some of the lifts weren’t quit up to the standard of the other two. Bruno told Cristian, "For one arm, you did bloody well." Carrie Ann said, "I don’t know if either [you or Jason] compare to Kristi tonight, but when I look at you, I see a winner in so many other ways."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…8, Bruno…9 = 26/30
60 — Kristi & Mark
52 — Cristian & Cheryl
51 — Jason & Edyta
Based on tonight’s performances, there’s no question in my mind who should win. Kristi, who started strong, refined her performance skills over the course of the season to become the most impressive female celebrity ever to compete on the show. All of my votes went to Kristi & Mark.