Melissa Rycroft, Gilles Marini, Shawn Johnson
Sixty-eight percent of TVGuide.com voters believe that Shawn Johnson will take the Season 8 Dancing with the Stars crown. But to hear the Dancing cast tell it, it's really anybody's game at this point.
"I think this season it's more of a toss-up than any other one," pro Chelsie Hightower, who was eliminated in fourth place with partner Ty Murray, tells TVGuide.com. "I honestly don't know who will win. Shawn and Melissa [Rycroft] have really big fan bases and for whatever they lack, I'm sure Gilles [Marini] gets a lot of women's votes."
The final three will face off on Monday with three dances — literally, in one case. In a Dancing first, the pairs will dance back-to-back-to-back in a Paso Doble Punch-Out featuring the same song. "It will really show everybody's uniqueness and their strengths because it'll use the same music," Johnson tells TVGuide.com.
So what are their strengths? Let's size them up.
For: Athleticism; knows how to perform under pressure; Olympic-sized fan base (pun intended); technically precise; overall cuteness; cheerfulness.
Needs work on: More cheerfulness. Johnson and Mark Ballas will do their cha-cha as their repeat dance, hoping to better their original score of 28. "I need to bring my personality out more," she says. "I think if I can do it even more over-the-top and hit those technical lines perfectly, then I think I can get a 30."
Why she might win: "I think she will win. She's going to be hard to beat just because she has a huge fan base," Murray tells TVGuide.com of the Olympic champ. Should Johnson win, she'd be the third Olympic gold medalist to snag the Mirrorball trophy. Kristi Yamaguchi was the most recent one, and who took her there? Ballas.
Keep an eye out for: Gymnastic tricks in their freestyle since they can "go crazy and not get in trouble for it," like they did in the Lindy Hop; possibly more makeup for Ballas, who seemingly donned a whole tube of eyeliner in their Argentine Tango. "He's a rockin' dude. He likes that stuff," Johnson says.
For: Girl-next-door looks and a toothpaste endorsement-ready smile; dance background; Bachelor sympathy; those gravity-defying low-rise jeans.
Needs work on: Her footwork. Judge Len Goodman's been harping on her steps. "I think that's her ballet background. It's funny because training can work against you," Nancy O'Dell, who Rycroft replaced, tells TVGuide.com. "Sometimes it's better not to have a background because [the pros] won't have to un-teach anything." Rycroft is also recovering from a rib injury, but she says it's the least of her concerns.
Why she might win: "Melissa's been dancing pretty much all her life and then she had The Bachelor, so it would be an amazing story for her," Marini tells TVGuide.com.
Keep an eye out for: Another wardrobe malfunction? Johnson says Rycroft and Tony Dovolani will repeat their samba, the dance that ended with Rycroft falling out of her top.
For: Sex-iness; natural dance ability; last man standing; momentum (he's received the most perfect 30s); relatable. "Ninety-nine percent of the people watching me were exactly like me two and a half months ago with no training background versus having a lifetime experience with dancing or training of some kind," Marini says. "My nightmare is always remembering the choreography. [Cheryl Burke and I] want people to understand that anybody can do this if this guy, me, is doing it."
Needs work on: After getting two 30s in the semis, it seems like nothing, but Marini is nursing a shoulder injury that requires surgery after the show. "I wish I could be healthy," he says. "There are a lot of lifts in our freestyle and if we're not careful, my shoulder will be completely broken."
Why he might win: The ladies' vote and momentum. He's been the breakout of the season (dancing-wise) and Goodman wanted to give him an individual score of 11 last week. "That was the ultimate compliment," Marini says. "I told Cheryl that a month ago, jokingly, that I wanted an 11. When Len said that, my reaction was like, 'Oh my God! We talked about it!'"
Keep an eye out for: More pec action (Burke teased Marini would stay clothed until the finale) and history. If they win, Burke would become the first pro to win three Mirrorballs.
Who do you think will win Dancing?
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