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Hines Ward tackles 'Dancing' for the mirror ball trophy

After 10 weeks of grueling rehearsals, loads of glittering costumes and just as many dance-floor performances, “Dancing With the Stars” ended on a somewhat predictable, if not perfect, note Tuesday night.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 and tell her what you will and won’t miss now that the “Dancing” season is over.