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Adam Taylor  /  ABC
Hines Ward and pro Partner Kym Johnson are the season 12 winners.
TODAY contributor
updated 5/25/2011 12:39:10 AM ET 2011-05-25T04:39:10

After 10 weeks of grueling rehearsals, loads of glittering costumes and just as many dance-floor performances (of widely varying qualities), “Dancing With the Stars” ended on a somewhat predictable, if not perfect, note Tuesday night.

Chelsea Kane might have been the best dancer of the bunch. Kirstie Alley might have been the most interesting and inspiring. But judges’ favorite and promising ballroom star Hines Ward, with new fans and his old Steelers Nation behind him, won it all.

How and why
The second and last night of the ballroom finals saw all three of the season’s top hoofer hopefuls face off with their favorite past routines before Ward and viewers finally learned the results.

Watch best bits of 'Dancing' finale
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Kane, along with pro partner Mark Ballas, reprised a slightly more traditional and downright flawless version of her memorable “wizard waltz” from week four. The judges loved it and gave the Disney Channel star 30 out of 30 for it.

Alley not only revisited her first routine of the show — that snappy cha-cha-cha that earned her week-one raves — she also did it while wearing the very same gown, more or less. The sparkling charcoal dress had to be heavily altered for the shrinking star.

The actress’s precision cha-cha do-over was even better the second time around. The judges loved it and gave the actress 30 points.

Then came obvious panel pick Ward. He and partner Kym Johnson gave the audience another look at their “terrible towel” samba. It was great, it was fun, it was … not quite as good as the original week-three effort.

So what did the judges think? Why, they loved it and gave him a 30! Barring a ballroom faceplant (and who knows — maybe even with one or two) a 30 was the only score in sight.

The three-way tie in the last portion of the finals and just five points separating first and last place from night-one meant that those scores hardly mattered. The ultimate decision came down to viewer votes and the fan bases behind them.

Will Maks go 'Dancing' away from hit show?

That was bad news for Kane, who was both the top dancer and the least known celeb outside of the tween contingent. The young star was out of the running once the first cut came down.

Soon after, Alley learned her fate (and the fate of her yet-to-win pro partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy) when a smiling Ward was named the winner.

The victory for the Steelers wide receiver wasn’t just a win for him and his supporters. It also marked an important triumph for Hines’s partner, Johnson.

The recently injured Johnson now enters the “Dancing” record books by tying Derek Hough’s three-time champ status — sort of.

The pro previously won alongside Donny Osmond in season nine, bringing her U.S. tally to two. But before that, Johnson went “Dancing With the Stars” in her native Australia, where she won with TV presenter Tom Williams. That’s close enough to a three-peat.

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But wait! There’s more — a lot more
Of course three routines and one big announcement didn’t max out Tuesday’s two-hour finale spectacular. No, that took a whole lot of filler.

There were performances from musical guests the Black Eyed Peas, The Go-Gos, Josh Groban as well as country singer and “Dancing” alum Sarah Evans.

Then there were also old faces (and the feet that went along with them). Every ousted contestant of the season hit the dance floor, save Wendy Williams (Thanks, Wendy!), to show the audience just what they could do — or in the case of Mike Catherwood and Sugar Ray Leonard, remind viewers of precisely what they couldn’t do.

Story: Alley has lost 38 inches since 'Dancing' debut

At least a couple of the evening’s filler-iffic bits were worth watching. Chmerkovskiy’s clichéd but effective hot-cop dance routine during the aforementioned Go-Gos gig easily made for must-see TV. And topping that (well, maybe), wrestler Chris Jericho delivered one heck of a memorable moment with his spot-on Bruno Tonioli impression. Carrie Ann Inaba gave Jericho a 10. Tonioli just gave him a smooch.

With those antics and Ward’s win out of the way, the ballroom bash closed for the summer. For “Dancing” fans, the show’s fall return can’t come soon enough.

Now that it’s over, Ree Hines will miss Brooke Burke’s awkward backstage banter. Not really! Follow @ReeHines and tell her what you will and won’t miss now that the “Dancing” season is over.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Season 16

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  1. Call the fashion police!

    "Dancing With the Stars" is known for its lively judges, sexy dancers, and of course, its sometimes questionable costumes. Check out some of our favorite odd outfits from the season, and why they may have been better off left in the dressing rooms. -- Anna Chan

    On March 25, Wynonna Judd and pro partner Tony Dovolani donned cop costumes for a sad quickstep that was slower than molasses. Oddly enough, judge Bruno Tonioli "loved the bonkers cop idea." We're not so sure "Fashion Police" boss Joan Rivers would agree. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Throw them a life saver!

    "Bachelor" Sean Lowe and pro Peta Murgatroyd offered up a sloppy jive that left the judges wanting on March 25. But their matchy-matchy yellow outfits only sank them further. Granted, Peta can pull off pretty much any atrocity, but Sean? What's up with those lemon yellow pajama bottoms? Don't lifeguards wear swim trunks? (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Stayin' alive

    Head judge Len Goodman got into the theme on April 1 when "DWTS" went back to the prom. Ruffled shirts were never hot, so why not make them hot pink? (Hey, we all know the costume department doesn't always choose the best colors.) (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Pretty in pink

    Oh, the hair! The one glove! The pink bows on her dress! Co-host Brooke Burke has looked nothing but stunning all season (a surprise, as her wardrobe in the past has been rather questionable). Yet during prom week, she let go of the glam. We'll forgive her this one and only fashion faux pas of the season. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Going to the Y

    While the rest of the "DWTS" cast went to the prom on April 1, Peta and Sean somehow missed the memo and went to the YMCA instead as the Village People. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Prom? So what?

    Every prom has them: the anti-prom kids who are too cool for school. For the "DWTS" bash, that was Wynonna and Tony, who got all rockered out. Normally, we wouldn't take issue with this, but Tony! The mullet! Really?!?!? It's almost as bad as Maksim Chmerkovskiy's Mick Jagger wig from last season! (Nice boots, though.) (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. She's golden

    As gorgeous as Peta is, even she couldn't quite pull off those questionable gold bell bottoms and giant hair when she and Sean danced a highly praised quickstep on April 15. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Let's boogie!

    On April 22, Team Samba (or as Andy Dick preferred to call it, Team Pickler Dick) took the the ballroom bash with a '70s-themed dance complete with the decade's questionable fashions. Among the low lights? The guys' creepy mustaches. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Not so easy on the eyes

    On Latin Night April 29, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and pro partner Mark Ballas took on a salsa that had the judges raving. What the panel didn't rave about were the seasick green/blue getups both wore. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A little young?

    On May 6, Aly and pro partner Mark were joined by Henry Byalikov for a trio jive full of shimmies and shakes for the 18-year-old gymnast -- and also a saucy red garter. Not that we're prudes, but did we mention yet that Aly's only 18? (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
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    Adam Taylor / ABC
    Above: Slideshow (10) Worst season 12 'Dancing' costumes - Season 16
    Adam Taylor / ABC
    Slideshow (14) Worst season 12 'Dancing' costumes - All-Stars
    Adam Taylor / ABC
    Slideshow (17) Worst season 12 'Dancing' costumes - Season 14
  4. Image: Cheryl Burke, Rob Kardashian
    Adam Taylor / ABC
    Slideshow (16) Worst season 12 'Dancing' costumes - Season 13
  5. Image: Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas
    Adam Taylor / ABC
    Slideshow (14) Worst season 12 'Dancing' costumes - Season 12
    Adam Larkey / ABC
    Slideshow (13) Worst season 12 'Dancing' costumes - Season 11
    Adam Larkey / ABC
    Slideshow (19) Worst season 12 'Dancing' costumes - Season 10
  2. ABC
    Slideshow (27) Worst season 12 'Dancing' costumes - Season 9
  3. TODAY
    Slideshow (28) Alley oop!

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Video: Hines Ward crowned 'Dancing' champ

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