ABC/ Kelsey McNeal
ABC/ Kelsey McNeal
Kristi Yamaguchi entered this contest with her own built-in pun and—more credit to her—she didn't let us down.
Positively icing the competition tonight (and every night, really), the Olympic gold medalist and partner Mark Ballas were named the winners of the sixth season of Dancing With the Stars.
"I guess 'K' is a good initial to have," Yamaguchi said before hoisting the coveted mirror-ball trophy. "This is just the icing on the cake. Honestly, from the bottom of my heart I want to thank all the fans out there and everyone involved...for making this a dream experience."
In becoming the first woman to win the whole thing since Kelly Monaco in the series' first season three years ago, Yamaguchi beat out NFL star Jason Taylor and first-time finalist Edyta Sliwinsksa in the final minutes of tonight's two-hour finale.
"I never ever thought I would get to this point. I never thought I'd do this show," the always-dashing Taylor said graciously. "Kristi is so deserving and everyone's been so fantastic...I had the time of my life. I loved it."
And really, the champion figure skater had been beating up on everyone all along—although Taylor recaptured the magic tonight with a 30-caliber quickstep that brought his two-night total to 81 out of a possible 90.
Too little too late, though, because Yamaguchi and Ballas—the highest-scoring couple in DWTS history—also scored yet another 30, this one for a redo of their geek-chic jive, to give them a perfect 90 for the week.
"I've got to say, for me, you are the most consistent dancer, not only on this season, but on any season," head judge Len Goodman said.
Yamaguchi's well-deserved victory came at about the 1:58 mark of a two-hour montage extravaganza, which started off with a performance from Usher and moved right into the first elimination of the night.
It was the walking wounded—Cristián de la Fuente and Cheryl Burke—who were the first to be let go.
"When I heard you were going to stay in the competition [after rupturing a tendon in his bicep], I thought you were nuts," host Tom Bergeron told the Chilean actor. "But what I've realized is, you're pretty amazing."
Aw, Bergeron's getting downright sentimental in his sixth season.
"I would never have the feeling of going into the final after an injury if it wasn't for Cheryl," de la Fuente, who put off surgery to stay on the show, said. "She's been the best partner I could have. She's been a real friend, not only a dance partner but a support when I really needed her."
"Of all my five seasons being on this show...I've had one of the best times with Cristián," Burke, a two-time champion making her third trip to the finals, added. "I love you, and I'll miss you and your family so much."
Then the two performed one last tango and—we knew it was coming—producers managed to fill the ensuing hour and 40 minutes with highs and lows, drama and comedy, freak-outs and fawning, and flashes of what could've been.
Or, in this case, what already was.
This year's other contestants—Penn Jillette, Monica Seles, Steve "I guess my favorite moment is right now and I don't have a least-favorite moment" Guttenberg, Adam Carolla, Priscilla Presley, Marlee Matlin, Shannon Elizabeth, Mario and Marissa Jaret Winokur—all trotted out to take a turn across the floor.
And yes, Carolla whipped out the unicycle again.
"This is why the terrorists hate us—we've got black and white, Hispanic and Asian, gay, straight and Guttenberg, all working together for one common goal," the radio host said when asked for a recap of his DWTS experience. "And the mirror ball doesn't care what color you are..."
He went on, but...Exactly.
Ultimately, though, the two remaining finalists had only the nicest things to say each other, although earlier in the evening Taylor admitted there was no room for his and de la Fuente's friendship out on the dance floor.
"Kristi's been great," he said. "I grew up on two things: Wheaties and watching Kristi compete for our country."
"Obviously I have a ton of respect for Jason," Yamaguchi said of her cofinalist. "He really is a true gentleman."
A nice sendoff for all involved.