Kristi Yamaguchi, Dancing With the Stars


Step in time with our Dancing With the Stars performance-show liveblog:

At last, it's the finals, and we don't think the top three has been this deserving since the Joey-Mario-Emmitt round in season three, although 30s have been really hard to come by these last couple weeks.

Cristián de la Fuente, Jason Taylor and Kristi Yamaguchi will each be dancing a cha-cha—all to the same song, to really compare ability and musicality—and a freestyle (otherwise known as a melange of no-longer-forbidden lifts).

8:11 p.m.: A very purple Cristián and Cheryl Burke start things off…Proficient, but not really finals-caliber, is it? Lots of running and sliding around…

8:12 p.m.: Here comes Edyta Sliwinska, channeling a sunrise in that multicolored citrus number, Jason trailing behind her....Again, a little awkward and not something that's showing off Jason's usually jaw-dropping lines to their full capacity.

Whose idea was this group cha-cha anyway?

8:13 p.m. Kristi, sporting a minidress that looks fashioned out of white, grey and black pompoms, smooches Bruno Tonioli before hitting the floor with Mark Ballas. Better. Now, this choreography is doing something for us.

8:14 p.m.: Jason just flubbed the little easy shuffle he was supposed to do in unison with the others. Oh, well…

8:16 p.m.: "The threesome of the season—I had to join in," Bruno exclaims.

8:18 p.m.: Sure enough, Carrie Ann Inaba thinks Cristián's injury might have reared its ugly head a little, hurting his posture in the process.

Also sure enough: "Kristi, you won that hands down!" Carrie Ann says.

"Good that I didn't lose another tendon," Cristián says backstage when asked how he's feeling. (Just so you don't forget he's injured when it comes time to vote, eh?)

8:19 p.m.: The judges give him a 26.

8:25 p.m.: Jason, meanwhile, gets a 24, and Kristi scores her second 30 of the season, raining on the boys' parade. And, perhaps, indicating that the drought of female champions ends tomorrow?

8:36 p.m.: Kristi and Mark also earn a 30 for their hip-hop and Michael Jackson-influenced freestyle, which utilized both the gold medalist's flexibility, her overall teenyness and her ability to moonwalk.

"You made it look easy, and you keep shining as bright as ever. Worthy of the championship—for me," Bruno says. "I'm not in love with hip-hop...but this held my attention from start to finish," Len Goodman adds.

This is Kristy and Mark's first perfect 60 and, going by the judges' deliriously overjoyed comments, it sounds as if they're rooting for a sex change (in the winner's circle) this season, as well.

8:47 p.m.: Jason's resemblance to Criminal Minds' Shemar Moore is out in full force tonight... Anyway, he and Edyta (making her first trip to the finals because Joey Lawrence's top-three appearance wasn't counted back then) are dressed all in white (some more dressed than others) for their freestyle number, which starts with the petite pro leaping into the football hunk's arms.

"Who knew, Jason Taylor can get fun-kay," Carrie Ann praises. Len admires the mighty lifts and Bruno adds: "You've both got it—It's like watching centerfolds."

8:50 p.m.: Good enough for a 27, anyway, which prompts 10-happy boos from the audience.

8:57 p.m.: "I'm already broken, so bring it on," Cristián says during rehearsal. He may have wanted to take that back when he let out a gasp of pain a moment later. It should be interesting to see what a freestyle looks like when, theoretically, the competitors can't rely on lifts quite so much...

Oooh, that's how. Seriously, though, Best Performance by a Right Arm goes to Cristián.

9:00 p.m.: Len understands that Cristian is compromised, but he still has to take his lesser lifts into consideration. Not a huge fan of the actor, but what gives?! He's apparently getting punished for actually dancing his freestyle rather than just swinging it around.

"A true Latin stallion," Bruno calls him, but Carrie Ann only sees Cristian as a winner "in so many other ways." Meaning, not tomorrow, hon, sorry.

9:02 p.m.: That earns them a 26 and...ABC runs out of time.

So, who is most deserving of the disco-ball trophy this year, and how do these finalists stack up to the celebs of DWTS past? Usher performs on tomorrow's finale.

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