ABC/Eric McCandless(NEW YORK) — Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez danced away with the mirrorball trophy Tuesday night in the season 23 finale of Dancing with the Stars, which found the judges passing out nothing but perfect tens. The Christmas-themed ending was a first, with three athletes vying for the prize for the first time in the show’s history. Hernandez, who’s 16, also becomes the youngest Dancing with the Stars winner ever.
First up, the top finishers reprised their favorite dances from the fall season. Indy Car driver James Hinchcliffe and his partner, Sharna Burgess, revisited the Quickstep, while former contestant Andy Grammar sang his hit, “Fresh Eyes.” Former NFL player Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold cued up the Argentine Tango from Latin night, as the Eagles’ “Hotel California” played. Soon-to-be champion Laurie Hernadez danced the Trio Samba with Val Chmerkovskiy, complete with a wardrobe change, and an assist from Val’s brother, Max.
It was the 24-Hour Fusion Challenge, however, that would seal the deal. “I wish I could dance like you,” judge Len Goodman confessed, after James and Sharna combined the Viennese Waltz and the Foxtrot.
“I wish I could dance with you!” Julianne Hough echoed.
Julianne went on to proclaim Calvin and Lindsay’s Jive and Quickstep combo “the perfect fusion dance,” while Carrie Ann Inaba marveled, “You just have this X factor.”
Bruno Tonioli couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm for Laurie and Val’s Foxtrot and Argentine Tango. “My darling, you really are a spectacular dancer!” he said in praise of the Olympian. “Right on the money, honey!”
As the final scores were tabulated, fourth-runner-up Jana Kramer returned to perform her latest country single, “Circles.” Earlier in the night, she and Gleb Savchenko melted the stage with their sexy Argentine Tango from Latin night.
In the end, Calvin and Lindsay finished in third place, with James and Sharna just missing the mark, placing second. Laurie’s win guarantees her a place on the upcoming Dancing with the Stars tour.
You can catch the winners Wednesday morning on both Good Morning America and The View on ABC.
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