Did we just watch the Dancing With the Stars finale or the early version of the Disney Christmas Parade? Last I checked it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but time means nothing in the world of reality TV. That’s why the winner (spoilers ahead!) gets approximately 30 seconds to bask in the glow of winning the Mirrorball trophy before Tom Bergeron tells them we’re out of time. So who’s taking home some new hardware tonight and who has to settle for runner-up? Read on!
Laurie Hernandez is your new Mirrorball champion, with James Hinchcliffe coming in second, and Calvin Johnson in third. It’s Val Chmerkovskiy‘s second Mirrorball (he last won with Rumer Willis in season 20), and at 16 years old, Laurie is the youngest contestant to ever win the show. Congrats, Laurie!
The evening was bittersweet for Sharna Burgess, who overcame an awful knee injury only weeks ago. She deserved to win her first Mirrorball this season with James at her side—she taught him everything and turned him into a dancer worthy of pro status. Think about it: The guy is used to sitting inside a claustrophobic race car, not dancing or performing. So, James, while you won’t be taking home a bedazzled ball, know that you made a lasting impression on millions of viewers everywhere. And Sharna, we thank you for that.
That’s not to take anything away from Olympic champion Laurie Hernandez, who truly was terrific and charmed millions of fans each week with her charisma and talent. Competing on Dancing With the Stars was a lifelong dream of Laurie’s; needless to say, it’s going to be hard to top 2016 for her.
Update: After their big win, Laurie took time to reflect on her accomplishments, telling reporters that “since I was a little kid, the Olympics [were] such a big goal that I created for myself and I was able to push through it and make that happen. [As for DWTS], I’ve always loved to dance and my passion was dancing as well as gymnastics, so winning the Mirrorball today was insane and amazing.”
And for Val, how does this win compare to his last one with Rumer? “It doesn’t compare to the first one,” he told Glamour. “At the end of the day it’s not about the Mirrorball, it’s about the friendships that you create, and I’ve created a friendship with an incredible young lady that I’ll be rooting for for a very long time.”
Speaking of friendship, Terra Jole and Sasha Farber truly formed a bond over the last three months on this crazy journey. Still, it was hard falling one week short of the finale. “It stings a little,” Sasha admitted. “She’s worked super, super hard, and it’s like we didn’t miss a week at all since we got eliminated last week and now we’re here again. [Still], it would have been good for America to see her freestyle because we had a few cool little tricks up our sleeve. If it was up to me, I’d give her the Mirrorball because she worked super hard and there’s no limit to Terra. The only limit is the sky.”
Well, maybe three hernias, too. Terra will have surgery to correct a split in her stomach as well as those troubling hernias now that DWTS is over. “It’s because I started dancing three weeks after [giving birth] via C-section,” Terra said post-finale. “But once you’re in [the thick of this show], you don’t want to give up. You don’t want to take the sympathy card either. You want to keep going. There’s lots of people that leave because of injury, and that’s the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to see how far we could really make it to the best of our abilities.” So even with the impending surgery and recovery, would Terra have done anything differently? “No. This has been the experience of a lifetime, and I really wouldn’t have done this any other way.”
Maureen McCormick was literally beaming after the show thanks to her brief dance with Babyface. “It was the highlight,” she gushed. “The last dance for me was the perfect way to end this whole journey. I just went out there and had fun and loved [the other] man that I was with, [Artem].”
Although Artem Chigvintsev didn’t get as far as he would have liked this season, he has plenty to be proud of, including his role in the upcoming film, La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Turns out he’s Ryan Gosling’s body double in the film! “Yeah, it’s kind of surreal,” he laughed. “[Emma and Ryan] were so great to work with. They are incredible human beings. I’m just hoping the movie is going to be nominated for everything because it truly deserves it.”
Considering Artem’s working relationship with Ryan Gosling, did he try to recruit the movie star for season 24 of DWTS? “No, but Ryan did watch the show! When I started teaching him, he said, ‘Oh my gosh, last week there was this performance…’ and I said, ‘You watch?’ He said, ‘Yeah!’ and I said, ‘Yeah, OK!'” You see, Artem, this would have been prime opportunity to get Ryan to sign up! And hey, what if we went a step further and had the first same-sex DWTS pairing with Artem and Ryan? “OK,” Artem laughed. “That would be Mirrorball trophy worthy!”
Speaking of the Mirrorball, what did Artem think about tonight’s finale results? Should James have won based on the fact that he had never done this before and was pretty much perfection each week? “I mean, it’s hard,” he admitted. “We’re talking about an adult—James—and we’re talking about young Laurie. I feel that James did absolutely an amazing job. Honestly, some part of me wish[es] he would have lifted that trophy because it feels like he may be the most deserving one, but we cannot deny the fact that Laurie just did outstanding job every single week and never failed to deliver. Seeing her emotional side that nobody saw in the Olympics, I think is something that really opened up peoples eyes to relate more and at the end of the day say, ‘She’s the one.’”
Emma Slater walked the red carpet without partner Rick Perry, who was headed to the airport for an early flight, but she couldn’t stop gushing about the former Texas governor. “I don’t think anybody had more fun than Rick [tonight]. He was so stoked to be back! Especially when they asked him to play the drums. He was way happy!”
As for next season, none of the pros knows if they’ll be back yet, but if it’s up to Emma and her fiancé, Sasha Farber, there’s no question. “I would never say no to the show,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a job. It’s just so fun.”
And what about wedding plans? Might we have a DWTS wedding in the spring? “We don’t have a date yet,” Emma admitted. “We know we want to have it in L.A. because I want to turn around and see Tom Bergeron and Alfonso [Ribeiro] and Witney [Carson] and Hayley [Erbert] and Derek [Hough] and all our friends. Having it in Australia or England would be hard. We’re thinking possibly next year—the end of next year. But scheduling is such a nightmare!”
Pro Allison Holker has plenty at home to keep her busy during the off-season, but she decided to take on an additional passion project as well: “I have my first jewelry collection with Nashelle, which is great because I wear it all the time! We got together, discussed ideas, and the collection came together. We wanted to do something different!”
Speaking of doing something different, Allison broke with tradition during the live finale and grabbed a bite to eat at the nearby Cheesecake Factory at The Grove. “Mid-show my husband and I went and had a little appetizer,” she said. “We had the lettuce wraps! Who doesn’t want to eat during an amazing show?! Just don’t tell the show I snuck out for a second! I made it to the stage when I had to, that’s all that matters!”
As for next season, she’s hoping to be back, “but none of us ever know. I’d love to come back. I love being a pro on this show. It’s the hardest, yet the most rewarding job that I’ve ever been on. We’re all such a family here.”
Season 24 of Dancing With the Stars returns in March. In the meantime, watch us play dance charades with Terra Jole and Sasha Farber, below.