[WATCH] ‘Dancing with the Stars’: Laurie Hernandez made the judges cry with her ‘joyful’ freestyle dance

Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez has impressed the judges on “Dancing with the Stars” all season, so they had high expectations for her freestyle routine during Monday night’s finals, but even then they were surprised (watch it above). “I did not expect you to be so uplifting,” said Carrie Ann Inaba. “You brought tears to my eyes … You are so inspiring.” She and the rest of the judging panel gave Hernandez perfect 10s, which ended up putting her on top of the leaderboard for the sixth time this season.

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Len Goodman has shuttled back and fourth this season, juggling his judging duties on “Dancing with the Stars” and its British counterpart, “Strictly Come Dancing.” He hadn’t seen Hernandez dance in person for a few weeks, and his reaction was much the same as Inaba’s. “Fantastic, I loved it. It was just a joyful experience to watch it.” Added Julianne Hough, “That was incredible, so fresh and youthful and crisp.”

And of course Bruno Tonioli is never shy with a colorful metaphor. He said the freestyle had “so much energy you could send a rocket to the moon … I feel invigorated, joyful.”

Joy was the judges’ biggest takeaway from her dance. Her pro partner Val Chmerkovskiy choreographed a playground-themed routine that tapped into her exuberance, innocence and youth — at 16-years-old, she would be the youngest winner in “DWTS” history if she claims the Mirror Ball Trophy later tonight. Do you think her freestyle was enough for her to clinch the title?

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