'Dancing with the Stars' week 10: Finals pit Lake v. Kardashian v. Martinez

(ABC )
November 21, 2011|By Jennifer Broadwater

Tonight, the three remaining stars battled it out on the dance floor for the coveted "Dancing with the Stars" mirrorball trophy.

Ricki Lake, Rob Kardashian and J.R. Martinez each performed two dances: a style they had yet to encounter in the competition and a no-holds-barred freestyle dance.

Ricki danced a cha-cha that was well-executed, although I wouldn't call it a show-stopper.

I tend to cringe when newbie dancers are faced with the cha-cha -- simply because it requires a ton of attitude and confidence and hips-hips-hips. So it could be a blessing or a curse to pull the cha-cha so late in the competition. It didn't seem to make or break her in the judges' eyes, and she earned three 9s.

Ricki's partner, Derek Hough, has a strong track record in the DWTS finals: Every time he's been to the finals -- three times with Jennifer Grey, Nicole Scherzinger and now-host Brooke Burke -- he's guided his partner to victory.

Also having avoided the cha-cha until now was J.R. Martinez.

And the curse of the cha-cha did strike in his performance. J.R. seemed to have heavy feet tonight. He just wasn't moving as well as he normally does. The judges got plenty of boos from the audience for telling him as much, but their observations were spot on. Although the judges all had criticisms, their scores were a bit scattered: a 7 from Len Goodman, an 8 from Carrie Ann Inaba and a 9 from Bruno Tonioli.

Rob Kardashian was tasked with dancing the waltz, a difference that could help set him apart.

Judge Carrie Ann Inaba called him the show's Cinderella story. And it's true, he really has improved so much from week 1 -- bravo. But I still don't think he will win! His waltz earned three 9s from the judges panel as well.

In the freestyle portion, Ricki and Derek's performance blended the Latin spice of salsa with the light and breezy quickstep and a big spin at the end that clearly made Ricki a tad dizzy upon dismount. The couple earned another three 9s.

Since his partner Cheryl Burke considers Rob's strengths to be in the slower ballroom styles, that's how they started out their freestyle, which incorporated elements of foxtrot and jive. Rob seems to have peaked just in time. He was the only finalist who had yet to earn a set of three perfect 10s. But his freestyle got the job done.

J.R. redeemed himself in his salsa-inspired freestyle. Yet another Latin dance, but this time J.R. (who is, after all, Latino) nailed it. He and partner Karina Smirnoff hit several difficult lifts and partnering sequences that they were stumbling over in rehearsals just a few hours earlier.

At the end of the night, based on judges' scores alone, Rob led the pack with a score of 57 points, while Ricki and J.R. each had 54 points.

When all was said and done, Ricki and J.R. -- the favorites for several weeks now -- had similar nights with cha-chas and salsa freestyles. Rob, on the other hand, could very well have differentiated himself with waltz and jive.

Now it's up to the viewers' votes. Tune in tomorrow to see who emerges victorious!

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