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‘Dancing With the Stars’: Kristi Yamaguchi fulfills her destiny

Dwts_10_20080520 Man, two hours of a results show is long.  Approximately 40 minutes of that time was taken up by slow-motion, dramatically scored flashback footage to Cristián de la Fuente’s bicep injury.  Another 10 minutes involved Usher singing a new song and his hit song –- you know the one; it must be called “Yeah” -– while he and various professional dancers hit the stage.  There must have been 30 minutes of commercials, so that leaves 40 minutes for filler, dancing and results.  And the filler took up about 28 minutes.  Yep, sounds about right.

After 10 weeks, we’re all tired here, so let’s cut to the chase: Kristi Yamaguchi and her partner Mark Ballas, the highest scorers in the history of the show (or at least the U.S. version) took home the trophy.  Jason Taylor and Edyta were the runners-up, and Cristián and Cheryl were consigned to third place, but don’t feel too bad for them because of all of the contestants, Cristián probably did the most for his career by being on this show and remaining in contention for so long.  I mean, had you heard of him before this?  And now you know he’s handsome, funny, persistent and in love with Jason. 

As we trudged through the 118 minutes of the show before we learned what we all wanted to know, we got to see all of the season six contestants in action again.  For those less-talented cast members -– you know, the ones who must have breathed a sigh of relief when they got the ax in the early weeks -– this must be a moment when you really regret signing the contract.  You look even worse now since the audience has grown used to a higher standard of performance.  So Penn Jillette and Kym’s cha-cha may not have been any worse this time around, but it seemed that way.  Same for Monica Seles and Jonathan’s mambo.  Steve Guttenberg and Anna performed a passable tango, and Steve once again refused to let even a wisp of a cloud cast a shadow over his outlook on life.  Adam Carolla and Julianne reprised their unicycling paso doble, and Adam plugged his radio show and Julianne’s new album and also delivered a rousing speech to the effect that the terrorists hate America because of “DWTS.” 

At this point, there was an interlude in which we find out that the dancing kids Brittany and Brandon beat the other dancing kids.  No real surprise there.  Expect to see them as pros on this show beginning in season 14 or so.

Next, we saw Priscilla Presley (who has a new hair color -– more auburn) and Louis dance a tango, and Marlee Matlin and Fabian perform a strong mambo.  It was at about this point that these reprise dances started looking consistently good.  Shannon Elizabeth and Derek performed the quickstep, which was definitely their best dance by far, though the magic was kind of ruined by Shannon panting away in her post-dance interview.  Cardio, Shannon!  Next up were Mario and Karina, doing an excellent mambo, then Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony dancing a paso doble.  After Cristián and Cheryl were eliminated early in the show, they also danced a paso doble.

Down to the final two, the filler and artificial suspense ratcheted up.  In background footage, Kristi and Jason trash-talked and also complimented each other.  Finally, it was time for them to dance again.  Kristi and Mark performed that first jive that they did this season, the really fun one.  Score?  30/30, for a total of 90/90 this week.  Jason and Edyta danced the quickstep, which was one of my favorite routines all season.  This was the one that ended in a handstand by Jason, and it was also noteworthy in that Edyta was mostly clothed.  Score?  30/30, for a total of 81/90 for the week.  But we didn’t know how the fans voted until the dramatic final moments, of course, but in the end it was Kristi and Mark.  Perhaps she can drape her gold medals around the mirrored ball, and then shower glitter over it all.

Kristi and Mark made sure to thank everyone affiliated with “DWTS” for all of their hard work in making this show everything that it is, and apparently this includes even co-host Samantha Harris.  Maybe Samantha should take an improv class in the off-season to work on her spontaneous interviewing skills.  Cristián and Jason, in a final public display of brotherly teamwork, lifted Kristi onto their shoulders and paraded her about the floor as confetti fell from the ballroom ceiling and fans cheered.

What else?  Well, in the filler interviews (both taped and live), everyone kept talking about how they’d made friends for life, and it sounded a lot like the things I used to say after summer camp, and how many of those people do I keep in touch with now?  I can’t even remember any of their last names.  Or most of their first names.  Ah, youth.

Finally, I know you’ve all been waiting for this, so I present to you my ranking of the dances, beginning with most favorite: (1) quickstep, (2) samba, (3) paso doble, (4) mambo, (5) cha-cha, (6) tango, (7) foxtrot, (8) jive (higher if performed by Kristi), (9) Viennese waltz and (10) rumba.  Why don’t they just get rid of the rumba next season?  They could replace it with the lambada.

It has been a pleasure Tracking for you this season, and thank you for all of your comments and insights.  Please weigh in with your thoughts on this season, and I’ll see you in September.

-- Sarah Rogers

Comments () | Archives (12)

Please get a new writer for this show's blog. This is consistently the most boring write-ups I have seen on the L.A. times. It's like a 5th grader being forced to write a book-review on a book he was forced to read over the summer vacations.

If you are not passionate about your job, find something better to do.

Totally unfair!!! Kristi should have been disqualified as a contestant since her professional training is that of a dancer but on the ice. It was not a surprise that she lead throughout the whole show with the highest points. She always had an advantage over everyone else that did not have any dance training. I did not watch the show because of that. To me Jason is the winner. Anyone who has not had any dance training but just has a natural ability for it, should be the winner. Kristi Y has 'danced' on ice all her life, how does that qualify her to be on Dancing with the Stars. Totally unfair. Shame on you!!

What happened with Cristian in the final show? We missed when he was eliminated. How did they do that - based on a particular dance? Did it include viewers votes? Just curious how they explained it.

What on earth is Jeff S. talking about? These DWTS posts are always extremely well-written and entertaining, and they betray (to me, at least) real enthusasiasm for the subject matter. In fact, they make me want to watch the show -- is there any higher recommendation?

wow, jeff, pretty harsh. i've really enjoyed the commentary this season, and it's sparked some nice discussion on the boards, too. it has to be hard to write up a show that's so predominantly physical, with so little scripted material to work with, but these posts have done so in a funny and engaging way.

i have to say, i both agree and disagree with elle--i think if you're going to have a show where people have little to no dancing experience, then bringing in a professional skater is a bad idea. kristi may have had to overcome some differences in training, but she had more natural grace than anyone else from the beginning.

however, once you decide you're going to let someone like kristi on the show--or anyone else with professional athletic training--you have to judge them fairly, and i got the sense that the show went to great lengths to try to make it look like there was a contest here when it was pretty clear that there was kristi and then there was everyone else. i'm glad she came away with the big sparkly prize--at the end of it all, she was better than everyone else by a long shot, and if bringing her on was a bad call, that's the producers' fault, not hers.

Kristi won because she's a trained (ice) dancer. Duh.

The odds were unfairly stacked from the beginning making this a predictable show. Sjhe should never have been selected to compete.

I wish these people who say Kristi was an ice dancer would get their facts straight. Kristi was NOT an ice dancer. She'd never learned let alone skated or competed a waltz, a jive or a tango. True, she does know how to present herself and choreography: posture, position and extension, finishing a move. She has awesome balance and fluidiy. Of course her training helps. Her natural gifts that made her a great skater also make her a natural at ballroom dancer. But her skating background doesn't make her a great dancer. Her natural ability, physiology and mental toughness are what gives her that boost.Yes, she has awesome balance and grace. Again, her size, slenderness, and natural grace come into play, not her skating, itself.

Yes, she skated pairs with Rudy Galindo. She has experience being lifted. But prior to the finals, there was only one week where lifts were allowed. They did only one lift--leading into her ending position on Mark's shoulder because it didn't fit with the character of the dance. Where's the advantage there?

What does flat-footed choreography gliding on an edge have to do with a samba? What do triple jumps and spins--where she doesn't even move her feet once she's on that edge--have to do with a mambo, quick step or paso doble? Nothing. Kristy's early days on the ice she competed in figures--tracing and retracing those variations of figure eights and looped circles. No advantage there except to build her patience, focus and mental toughness.

An example: Brian Boitano was an awesome skater--also an Olympic gold medalist--but footwork was never his strong suit. Why? Because of his size. he's 5'10'--tall for a skater. Smaller, leaner skaters--Brian Orser and Kurt Browning--were known for their footwork. Though he's a great skater, Brian Boitano wouldn't have an an advantage in ballroom dancing. Kurt Browning or Brian Orser might, but not becuse of their skating, but their size. The things that help make great skaters help in the ballroom as well.

I may be incorrect, but there were others in previous seasons that also have had formal dance training. Mario Lopez for one. And he didn't win.

Kristi was never an ice dancer.

Cristian was eliminated based on the viewer votes & judges scores from the previous week.

I agree that Kristi was a bit of a ringer but she was sooooo good! It was a pleasure and a joy to watch her routines. I would propose that most athletes have an advantage over non-athletes because they are more comfortable with their bodies and are used to pushing the envelope physically.

As for the comment regarding the writer of this blog-- Nonsense!! Sarah wrote with intellignece and humor and a keen eye for detail. I look forward to reading her work again in the fall!

I agree with the comments of Jeff S. Did Sarah write this column on the way to work?

Thanks for this DWTS wrap-up. By your definition, this article is clearly the results show of reviews. I definitely trudged through it -- cynicism, unfunny asides, and all. If you're bored out of your gourd watching the finale, how about joining the bandwagon and talking up THE OFFICE or some overrated snorefest. What are you doing reviewing this show, anyway? Was there a fire at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater that I didn't hear about? You're obviously way too hip for DWTS, Rogers! The sly wit just oozes out of your pores. yum.

I wholeheartedly agree with Jeff S. After reading the first paragraph of this article, I knew I didn't want to read anymore. My family absolutely loved all 2 hours of the show. Monday night was amazing and so was Tuesday night's finale. Monday's freestyle competition was much better than last season's and we loved seeing all the old stars back to dance one last time on Tuesday. Some, such as Shannon Elizabeth and Mario, were so good you wondered how they got eliminated before the final four. Moreover, Usher 's standout performances were tailor made to enhance what had already been a wonderful night of entertainment. I want to extend a big thank you to the people at DWTS for yet another fun and exciting season, filled with talented singers and great dancers. We will miss the show tremendously over the summer, although everyone around here is getting pumped up for the High School Musical competition beginning in June.

I've watched all season and I have to agree that Kristi came in with the advantage of being a World class performer in a pretty closely allied field, figure skating. There have been many other Stars that had actual dancing in their professional resume even if it was not ballroom. What was truly amazing was Jason's performance. This guy has to be everyone's choice for athlete of the year if not the century. Jason came across with class and dignity and I sensed a pending run for President with his quip about lowering gasoline prices if the public would vote for him. I suspect that he was the public's favorite and might have stolen the championship if Kristi did not have such an overwhelming advantage in the Judge's scoring. I notice that they never reveal the public's voting scores, but I suppose it is just as well. It would have been absurd for Jason to win over Kristi as he graciously conceded in the end. All in all, an entertaining and well directed show, but it will be hard to top this last season.


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