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Dancing With the Stars Finale Crowns a Deserving New Champ

NICOLE SCHERZINGER, DEREK HOUGH, ANNA TREBUNSKAYA, EVAN LYSACEK, ERIN ANDREWS, MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY, Dancing with the Stars ABC/ADAM LARKEY

Kate Gosselin didn't take enough flight to make the hype worthwhile, we'll tell you that.

Otherwise, the two-hour finale of Dancing With the Stars was a wee bit more relevant than usual, with the three finalists going tango a tango for more points before one was sent on his/her merry way, just short of the disco ball.

Before we reveal the winner, we applaud the producers for canning the roast, the Kenny Mayne commentary and most of the moments of nonsense that tends to take up the majority of the time. Even that sweet little bit of ABC synergy that had Jake Pavelka waltzing with future bride Vienna Girardi was palatable.

But with that said: Did Evan Lysacek's fall to last place hurt him in the end? Did Erin Andrews turn out to be the dark-horse contestant who managed to ride the wave of intrigue all the way to the winner's circle? Or did America finally reward the dancer who danced best?

Sure enough, it was Pussycat Doll galore as Nicole Scherzinger was named the winner of the 10th season of Dancing With the Stars.

The pop star, who was repeatedly labeled by the judges the best they'd ever seen on the show, couldn't really get any words out, choosing instead to jump up and down and scream her head off.

"Everyone's been amazing and I'm so happy!" said Nicole's partner, Derek Hough, a two-time Dancing champ after also winning with Brooke Burke in season seven.

It really would have been a crime if Nicole hadn't won, really, especially after the killer jive Derek choreographed for their final number of the season.

"There were 12 days of Christmas, seven dwarves, four Beatles. There can only be one winner of Dancing With the Stars. It should be you," said head judge Len Goodman as he and colleagues Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli awarded them one last 30.

Erin, meanwhile, was—as expected, really—the first to go, presumably regardless of the fact that the judges ranked her Argentine tango replay third behind Evan and Nicole, who placed first.

"This experience has meant everything to me," the emotional ESPN reporter said upon her exit. "I knew that these two were going to go head-to-head in this. I came here under really crummy circumstances, and I just wanted to get my life back together and my smile back. I just wanted to be myself again."

And, she added, pointing to partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, "This one has just put my life back together."

Though he didn't get her all the way to the finish line, Maks said that, in his eyes, they had already won.

So it turns out that Olympians who make the finals can, in fact, lose, as Evan gracefully turned the spotlight over to Nicole and Derek after falling just short of the proverbial gold medal.

"It's been such a blast, we were totally satisfied with everything we gave," the figure skater said of his performance with partner Anna Trebunskaya, a first-time finalist on the show.

"They deserved it, they worked so hard and inspired all the other couples in the competition," he said.

Indeed they did.

But enjoy the glory while it lasts, kids. The 11th season of Dancing With the Stars kicks off Sept. 20.

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