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'Dancing With the Stars' results: And the winner is...

116590_9343_pre In what was the closest competition in series history, Olympic gold medalist and all-around athlete adorable Shawn Johnson narrowly edged out sexy Frenchman Gilles Marini for the title of Season 8 “DWTS” champion.

The 17-year-old gymnast from West Des Moines, Iowa, grew in leaps and bounds as the competition progressed, and with the nurturing, twirly guidance of partner Johnny Castle Mark Ballas, was remade a ballroom dance superstar. Though she was tied with Gilles coming into Tuesday night’s finale, the voters ultimately gave spry Shawn the advantage: Maybe it was because of her perfect-30 freestyle routine the night before. Or as a reward for how far she’s come out of her shell. Or maybe it was a vote for America. Whatever the reason, that 18-inch globe of glittery goodness, the coveted Mirrorball trophy — the highest honor in reality TV about ballroom dancing — is hers. (A special shout-out to those of you who joined in our live chat on Tuesday: We totally called it!)

Shawn not only is the youngest competitor ever to  win this much-esteemed honor, but she also made good on Apolo Anton Ohno’s bold claim that no Olympian who had made the finals had ever not won their season (maybe it should be dubbed the golden medal rule). Shoot, as an Olympian, maybe she thrived on that pressure. And yay to Mark Ballas as well for winning his second “DWTS” title with his second “DWTS” Olympian and joining Cheryl Burke and Julianne Hough as repeat pro winners. Do you think this’ll make buddy and bandmate Derek Hough that much hungrier to win the following cycle?

116087_3074_pre Still, credit should be given to the sexilicious Gilles. He was a formidable competitor this entire season and had the entire package in terms of attitude, skill and the uncanny ability to look good in tight-fitting pants. You know, less than 1% separated Shawn and Gilles. It was almost as if they could be co-winners, no? Certainly, Gilles should be able to keep his head (and the rest of his finely sculpted body) held high, firm in the knowledge that he is a true dancer. 

The road to this victory was long and hard, however. And I’m not talking about the 11 weeks of competition. I’m talking about the two hours of filler. Segments about the judges sizing up the final three, previous contestants sizing up the final three, and the final three sizing up the final three. Though it was amusing to see that some of the finalists’ comments about one another rivaled Ross’ roast: Melissa made fun of Shawn’s height, and Gilles made fun of Melissa’s “Bachelor” history. His faux-earnest “Melissa, please take this rose. I’m taking the trophy” got as many surprised and disapproving groans as when Ross said, “Wouldn’t it be ironic if she came in second on this show too?”

Ross’ roast turned out a lot tamer than I thought it was going to be. Maybe because I was preparing for the worst. I liked how he said Bergeron is an old French word meaning “Seacrest” and called the judges “Smoking, Croaking and Flaming.” That this was “the first season where no actual stars made it to the finale. This isn’t a who’s who, this is a who are you?” That Belinda Carlisle was dressed “like a hooker from ‘Battlestar Galactica.’ ” Felt like he took the easy route when he picked on Steve “the Woz” Wozniak so much, though (“Was it you who took the bite out of the Apple logo?”). I mean, the guy’s a self-proclaimed geek; of course he would be an easy target. And brava to Lil’ Kim for taking his “I guess it’s not easy doing the cha cha cha with a bulletproof vest” and “she’s just doing community service” comments in good-humored stride.

116590_0277_pre Lady GaGa performed two songs. And she kind of scares me. Her costumes sure fit into the “DWTS” world, however: For her mega-hit “Just Dance,” the Lady wore a sparkly black unitard with one leg cut off and a big butterfly decal hanging from it, like a scapular. And it was another unitard for the song “LoveGame,” only this time it was pinkish-purple and sequined and she had sparkly skin. And she wielded something that looked like a glowing toilet brush. Did you catch Bruno going crazy over her second number in the background? Wild!

There was also a lot of Season 8 recap. Remember Holly Madison and her abundant ... fringe? Belinda, we’ve missed you! The Woz with his pink feather boa! I didn’t like how Tom peer-pressured the Woz to do the Worm, however: He obviously wasn’t prepared for it, and the world might have been a better place had it not witnessed this inflexible and highly unsuccessful attempt. Denise Richards and Maks performed their quickstep, which was very convenient, because Maks just had to put on a vest and another tie for his other quickstep with pro champ Anna Demidova (who also used that pink feather boa). DAG still made his less-than-savory faces, LT’s still got his groove, and Steve-O redeemed himself with his fox trot, which he landed safely on the steps of the stage this time. Chuck donned his red satin pajamas one last time and revealed he had “a new respect for satin, silk, and glitter and thongs.”

Samantha got a bigger role in the co-hosting duties. Though all her stilted Samantha speak (her comment that Chuck looked “like a sparkly crayon”) was a poignant reminder that maybe she should not handle the mike so much. Just sayin’. And though I figured that her awkward, loosey-goosey hip shaking before and after the commercial breaks were just a way to relax and have some fun before the hard speaking parts began, now we know that she was actually shimmying toward something — a role on Broadway, as Roxie Hart in “Chicago!”

Loved that we were able to see Lil’ Kim and Derek’s jumping jive once again. This repeat viewing just116590_1253_pre confirmed that this was my favorite dance of the entire season and how much the rap star’s spunk and charisma were missed the last couple of weeks. Ty braved the dance floor once more for his Lindy Hop with Chelsie, and then we were on to the final three dances of the season.

The show wanted to make it seem like Shawn, Melissa and Gilles were being judged one last time. And they were. But the fact that they all got perfect 30s for their cha cha, samba and Argentine tango, respectively, negated any chance of the judges’ scores upsetting any sort of voting turnout. They were basically all in the same places they were last night, right? So why was this judging necessary in the first place? Maybe as a reminder of the odd logic of those awful dance-offs at the beginning of the season. Whatever the case, it was fun to see all three couples perform their favorite dances, and I admired Team Shark’s decision to perform a routine that earned them a 28, rather than the perfect-30 routines chosen by Melissa and Gilles. And Tony's decision to embrace Bruno at the end of his and Melissa's samba routine, rather than Melissa. It was bold, and I liked it!

But as we neared the end of the second hour, it was revealed that Melissa and Tony were the third-place finishers. Melissa has made a great run, and her stint on this show has helped to put all that bad "Bachelor" juju behind her (and she didn't have to suffer the indignity of ending up in the runner-up position once again). But poor Tony. He’s come so far, only to fall short once again. He has amassed quite the celebrity fan base, with former partners Marissa Jaret Winokur and Jane Seymour rooting for him to win. (Maybe next year?) Though when they announced the Season 8 champ, both Shawn and Mark clasped their mouths in disbelief, and Mark fell to the floor in shock. Gilles was a gracious runner-up, only saying words of praise for Shawn, Cheryl and this competition. Which makes him a winner in my book.

What do you think, ballroom fans? Did the right star win? Post your comments below, and see you in September!

— Allyssa Lee

Photos: Kelsey McNeal /  ABC

Comments () | Archives (37)

yes the winner was right on

Shawn was good and all, but she wasn't good enough to win. I was pleased to see her in the finale, but I was so certain she'd come in third. I rather hoped Melissa would've won. Not only is she an amazing dancer, but she's one of us. The girl next door, and that made her seem more real than an Olympia 17-year-old and a nearly naked French man. It also helps that Melissa's hot too!

Yes, the right person won. Melissa was great, but emotionally always on the same pitch. Gilles peaked early and never got better. Shawn improved steadily and was just better technically.

The viewers were the winners. This was a great season

No,Gilles got robbed.Shawn was forgettable the whole season and was not a graceful dancer.She is the cutest and the youngest, but no way she should have won.She is the least and the weakest dancer out of the 3 finalists.

I think Gilles should have won because he was the whole package, not just the best dancer. I think, however, that he lost because of Cheryl's pick for the freestyle. Why she picked a dance that showcased her, and not Gilles, is beyond me.

I agree with Daks totally - Melissa should have taken 1st place - she has the elegance & body of a great dancer & she did a fantastic job! The other 2 were good - but she topped it. Shawn is too short & chunky to look elegant and Gilles was good, but not as good as Melissa. I was very disappointed when Melissa got 3rd place & didn't know the outcome until now.

Melissa was robbed. Melissa and Gilles were the better dancers, and consistently all season long. it should have been a tie between those two. I really think Melissa deserved to win, and can't figure out how Shawn & Mark won the trophy. What a surprise, disappointment and a shock. It was a fun year tho. Looking forward to next year's show.

Gilles should have won. He is the best dancer since day 1

Gilles should have won this hands down. Shawn didn't even come close to his
dance talent or finesse - she was cute and athletic but not "Star" quality.
What a disappointment.

Gilles Marini should be the winner , I think he lost because he is french , I realize people gave their votes for Americans and no all Americans , I think you know what I mean , there is no way that Shawn be the winner , no way. if you replay the show again you will now even she and mark were not expected to be the winner. Gilles Marini is the whole package.

It went perfectly. Melissa needed to be in third. She looked exactly the same from day 1 to the end --- like a trained ballet dancer who couldn't quite grasp any other style. Her arms were always soft, her movements were always small... She just never looked powerful. And furthermore, people voted her into 3rd. Gilles and Shawn had to LEARN dancing and both improved a LOT. It's because of that that they won people over. Shawn and Mark totally won viewers over with their struggles and pushing Shawn through her difficulties. Technically, Shawn is a very sound dancer. Sure, she's short, but she's very crisp when she needs to be, and she's very fluid when she needs to be. She's versatile. Melissa? Not so much.

The person who really won this year was Mark Ballas. He took Shawn from mediocre to great. He also always makes his partner number one on the dance floor and he has the best performance skills of all the pros. My kudos to Mark as well as Shawn for working hard and doing a great job. Quite frankly, Shawn and Mark outworked the others and deserved the award.

I thought Shawn should have won and I am glad that she did. Remember that the rank starts over again each week and the freestyles danced by Melissa and Gilles were rather odd. They were good, but I don't think they made use of the specific talents of those two extemely talented dancers. Shawn's freestyle was spot on...well except for the creepy masks.

All of the dancers were amazing and in all honesty I could have seen any of them as the winners. Hmm, I wonder who is going to be on next season.

Since the choice was left up to the viewers, I am not surprised that Shawn won. On Monday night, I was still at work. Whereas most of Shawn's fans, teens and pre-teens were home rotating between American Idol and DWTS. She has a huge fan base among Gymnastics kids, and kids in general, kids in Iowa. Gilles? I loved him, but I had no idea who he even was til I googeld him, and remembered him from SitC. And who saw that movie, anyway? Nor does Melissa have a built in fan base, like Shawn's which was built over the last 8 years of competition. It's amazing that Gilles' fan were able to make as big a dent as they did with the voting!

I would just like to say that Shawn and Gilles were tied this last week. I believe that Shawn worked very hard and the voters pulled through. Gilles did the same its just he was not voted for as much, but I think we should stop griping. I just want to know if all you voted? Also have any of you balllroom danced, I think not. So just make sure you do your part and vote next year.

this show was so rigged it was pathetic,it was so easy to predict who they wanted to win this competition

Mark is my favorite professional dancer on the show and I was soooo happy for him! He deserves a trophy, too. I wanted Giles to win the competition and now I'm really mad at my cell phone. I tried to call in my vote and it would cut itself off everytime. So, I gave up and told myself he'd win without my votes!!! Mark, I love your dancing and instructing. Keep up the good work!

You won't see me back next season. Gilles and Cheryl were robbed. He did not have the celebrity status as some of the others but was the best dancer from the first night and had more 10s than anyone else. This show needs to be called "voting for the stars" because dancing does not determine tne winner.

Giles should have won. He had all the natural talent. He always looked like a pro. I did want to see more from him in the freestyle, but that didn't take away from my vote. I saw what he was capable of all season. I liked Melissa too and would have been happy with her winning. Shawn did well but come on, would you really want to watch her as a professional dancer? The other 2 could already pass as pros. Truly disappointed. Gilles was clearly the winner.

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