Race car driver James Hinchcliffe and his pro partner Sharna Burgess‘s freestyle routine during the “Dancing with the Stars” season 23 finals on Monday night was “visual poetry — real, honest and extremely beautiful,” according to judge Bruno Tonioli. All four judges were mightily impressed by the heartrending routine, which was inspired by an accident on the race track that nearly took Hinchcliffe’s life in 2015 (watch it above).
None of the judges could contain their enthusiasm for the dance. Julianne Hough said, “Just when I think you’ve done your best dance, you come out and you do that … One of the best freestyles I’ve ever seen.” Carrie Ann Inaba also thought it was one of the best ever, proclaiming that “In 23 seasons I have never seen a more intelligent, artistic” freestyle dance.
Head judge Len Goodman returned to “DWTS” this week to judge the finals after shuttling back and forth between this series and its British counterpart, “Strictly Come Dancing.” He was equally impressed by Hinchcliffe’s emotional connection to the dance, telling the auto racer, “It showcased you as a dancer, but also as a person.”
But will it be enough to overtake frontrunner Laurie Hernandez, who has led our predictions for the Mirror Ball Trophy since before the season even started? Don’t forget to make your predictions before tonight’s finale.
Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts throughout the week, just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choices. You’ll compete to win a $100 Amazon gift certificate, bragging rights and a place of honor on our leaderboard. Our racetrack odds change as you make your predictions, just as they do when you bet on the Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes and more. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the season of “Dancing with the Stars” in our reality TV forum.