After 10 weeks of injuries, mishaps, perfect dances, and shocking eliminations, a winner was crowned for season 18 of “Dancing With the Stars.”
As predicted by our racetrack odds since week one of the competition, Olympic gold-medal winning ice-dancer Meryl Davis won the mirror ball trophy on the strength of viewer votes combined with three consecutive perfect dances: two on Monday night, and one more during Tuesday night’s finale, when she mastered the 24-Hour Fusion Challenge by combining a foxtrot with a cha cha.
Davis’s success also meant a first-ever “DWTS” victory for pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who previously had four top-three finishes without a win. Throughout the season, Chmerkovskiy praised his celebrity partner as the season’s best dancer, and it seems viewers at home agreed.
The 24-Hour Fusion Challenge – “Which sounds like a deodorant,” said co-host Erin Andrews – was the last hurdle for the contestants to clear; the three remaining stars were given two contrasting styles and one day to learn a new routine.
But the Fusion scores didn’t change the leaderboard. Amy Purdy and Derek Hough also scored a perfect 30, for a blended Argentine tango and cha cha, while Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas completed a samba/quickstep that earned them straight 9s.
That left Purdy and Hough in second place for the week, and Cameron Bure and Ballas in third, and that’s exactly where they finished in the final results, which our users also correctly predicted.
The emotional and celebratory finale night started with a “Road to the Finals” special that traced the difficult journeys the three finalists underwent on their way to the top three. We were then treated to encores of some of the season’s most popular dances, including James Maslow‘s finale-night freestyle routine, Charlie White‘s “Mary Poppins”-themed jazz number – the first time, he fumbled his cane, but this time he dropped Mary’s umbrella – and Drew Carey‘s jive.
The finale also featured musical performances by Iggy Azalea, Ariana Grande, ousted “DWTS” contestant Cody Simpson, season 17 “DWTS” champ Amber Riley, and Christina Perri, who performed “Human,” the song to which Purdy danced an emotional contemporary routine in week three.
There was also the possibility of a farewell. Judge Len Goodman, who has been with the show from the very beginning, announced that he might retire after this season while heaping praise on Davis’s final competitive dance.
Will Goodman be back next season? Will we be treated to an equally impressive crop of celebrity dancers? And did the right dancer win? Vote in our poll below, and join the discussion in our forums.