This is it, America.
Tonight, Kirstie Alley, Chelsea Kane and Hines Ward will leave it all on the parquet, after dancing for glory (and the most hideous trophy in prime-time) in the Dancing With the Stars finals.
But which star will end up holding that glittery mirror-ball aloft on the floor? Ousted pros Dmitry Chaplin and Karina Smirnoff aren’t keeping their picks a secret—and even more surprisingly, they’ve tipped the same celebrity hoofer to win the whole shebang.
So who are they backing? And what do the finalists have to say about the competition heading into tonight’s final?
First things first: on this, the pros agree—Chelsea Kane is their choice to win it.
“I think it’s going to be between Hines and Chelsea, and I won’t be surprised if Chelsea wins, even though everyone expects Hines to win,” Karina explained at the opening of the Market at Santa Monica Place last night. “It’ll be almost predictable for Hines to win…But it’s going to be between him and Chelsea, I think.”
Dmitry, who was also present at the event, was in agreement (for the record, Bodog puts Chelsea’s odds at 3/1; Hines is 1/2 and Kirstie is 4/1).
“I have a feeling it might be Mark and Chelsea,” he said. “Because Mark comes out with the great choreography. I respect him a lot for that. And if you actually look at the show, everything is determined by the freestyle. That’s what the show is known for. The freestyle is the decisive dance, so pretty much if you screw it up, you’re not gonna win. I’m sure Mark is going to come up with something amazing.”
Still, Alley is the first to note that her competitors have something on their side that she doesn’t: youth.
“I thought it would be a little easier and I thought I would be a little better and when I realized that neither of those things were true, I had to really dig in and really work hard,” she told E! News’ Ryan Seacrest on his radio show this morning. “I’m competing against size ones and age 14s and I thought, ‘Oh man, I’ve gotta take it up about 5,000 notches.”
“I think maybe people can identify with me because it isn’t a cake walk. There are a lot of elements working against me,” she went on. “I feel sort of ageless; in fact, I didn’t even know how old I was until I started doing this show and they broadcast it all over the universe every 30 seconds. I’m like, ‘People, shut the f–k up. We get it!'”
They may have youth, but she’s got humor. And another secret weapon: sparring (and dancing) partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, a fan favorite who has never won a season of the show.
“Maks and I will be friends for eternity. It’s like soul friends. It was sort of a match made in heaven and hell. Because we’re volatile and we’re too much alike…every week we’re like, we’re not gonna yell and we’re not gonna fight so our packages will look sweeter. But we’re not sweet people.”
Whether they’re winning people remains to be seen.
As for Chelsea and Hines, they too chatted with Seacrest this morning. As for what tricks they have up their sleeve for tonight…
“The only trick I have is not to drop Kim on her head again,” Hines said. “Replaying that in my mind is just a sick feeling.”
Still, the incident, while jarring, hasn’t scared their team away from any heavy lifting, and Hines told Seacrest that his confidence is still intact.
“We’ve got some lifts in, we’re not going to shy away,” he said.
As for Chelsea, the presumptive winner (at least according to Karina and Dmitry), well, win or lose, she’s already accomplished her goal.
“I asked Mark, ‘Please don’t let me be the first one voted off.’ That was my only goal.”
by GINA SERPE