‘DWTS’ Backstage: J.R. Martinez Back in Perfect Form; Rob Kardashian Wins the Night

Karina Smirnoff and J.R. Martinez on DWTS (ABC)

Karina Smirnoff and J.R. Martinez on DWTS (ABC)

War veteran J.R. Martinez made a big comeback on “Dancing With the Stars” Monday night by bringing the house down in a hip hop freestyle with partner Karina Smirnoff.

Although Rob Kardashian and pro Cheryl Burke won the night with the highest cumulative score of 57 points for the night’s two dances, season 13’s emotional favorite J.R. ended the show with a freestyle that could make him DWTS champion on Tuesday. Judges gave J.R. and Karina the coveted score of 30 out of 30 for their final routine. It was particularly impressive because J.R. had suffered a potentially devastating sprained right ankle last week that had hampered his dancing and lowered his scores. This Monday, J.R. also had started slowly, getting just 24 for his cha cha. With his perfect freestyle, however, he wound up with a total score of 54—and had won the hearts of viewers once again.

Meanwhile, the third finalist, Ricki Lake, tied J.R. for second place with two scores of 27 for her Monday night dances.

Watch Highlights From Monday:

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After the show, J.R. told reporters, “I think tonight, I was confident. Despite the cha cha not being scoreswise [sic], the best, I was confident enough to say, ‘let’s go out there and do it.’ We get one more chance tonight to show the judges, the ballroom, America, my partner and my friend that I’m not going to fall and I’m going to get back up and perform this routine the way that [Karina] choreographed it.”

Karina said there were similar thoughts going through her mind: “I just want us to have no regrets. And with the freestyle, I was so nervous. I kept praying, dear lord, please let us nail it. [But] we came out and said, let’s just enjoy it.”

The soap opera actor was happy much of his former “All My Children” family was in the audience cheering him on, including co-stars Cameron Mathison (a DWTS alum), Vincent Irizarry, and Bobbie Eakes. “I think it just shows despite ‘All My Children’ being canceled, we still remain good friends and support one another.”

J.R. told Xfinitytv.com about last week’s alarming injury, “My ankle’s fine. I feel good and if I did feel pain, who cares?”

Reflecting on his DWTS experience — in which he told fans about his incredible recovery from severe injuries suffered when his Humvee hit a landmine in Iraq– J.R. said, “Karina’s given me an opportunity to be who I am and for me to share that with the world. I’m tremendously honored that I’ve had the opportunity on the show to add a different dimension to it. I don’t even know the difference that you make in somebody’s life. I’m so grateful for this second chance at life and to learn how to do something that’s really beautiful, which is dance, a tremendous art. Whatever the hell happens tomorrow, it’s just been an amazing journey.”

Catch Up On Last Week’s Results Show:

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While J.R.’s freestyle caused the most excitement all evening, no one could forget that the dark horse, reality TV brother Rob Kardashian, was the one who achieved the highest total score, which included a perfect 10 for his swing dance inspired freestyle.

Backstage, Rob told reporters it was “crazy” to be on top of the finals leader board. Of the perfect score, he said he “did not expect it at all and to do it on the freestyle is so much more fulfilling. It’s the perfect way to end the season. It’s the first time we’re on top of the leader board.”

Rob had no fear of having to pick up Cheryl and spin her around aggressively at the end of the dance. Sounding like a seasoned professional, he shrugged, “We rehearsed and really, the battle is in rehearsals and then come show day, we already know everything. We can’t do anything else. We just have to have fun. It was really good.”

Cheryl added, “I just hate being lifted, period, but he’s strong.”

It was no surprise that Rob’s entire family—including controversy-plagued divorcing sister Kim Kardashian—showed up to watch him in the DWTS ballroom. “It’s the last Monday so they’ve definitely got to see me live and we have only one more day.” When asked what Kim might say to him if he wins, Rob said it would be simple: “congratulations.”

Although they tied for second with J.R. and Karina in the cumulative score with 54 points, Ricki Lake and her partner Derek Hough seemed to have lost momentum going into the Tuesday grand finale/elimination show. They earned scores of 27 for both their Monday dances, a solid but not spectacular result.

Still, the former talk show hostess was all smiles after the show, telling Xfinitytv.com, “I thought it was great. It was fantastic. I really outdid myself and I’m thrilled.”

And Derek also put the best spin on the situation, saying, “Tonight couldn’t have gone better.”

When pressed by Xfinitytv.com about the disappointing scores, Ricki pointed out, “We had a 30 last week and overall I think we were at the top of the leader board more [this season] than any other couple. I’m really pleased and proud of what we did tonight and every other dance. So I have only to celebrate.”

Ricki loved Rob and J.R.’s freestyles: “They were awesome. We all busted our asses all season. We all did our best. Everyone scored well and came out and did exactly what we had to do.”

Even if she doesn’t win on Tuesday night, Ricki has a lot to be proud of. She said she’d lost a major amount of weight doing DWTS: “I haven’t weighed myself the whole time, but probably 25 pounds. I went down two sizes. [I’m] probably a size 4. I haven’t gone shopping yet, but my 6s are falling off. A 4-6, that’s good. I’m healthy, happy!” And she’s ready for her wedding to fiancé Christian Evans although “we haven’t set the date yet.”

Tuesday, the three finalists will have one more chance to impress the judges and viewers before the winner is announced. Tune in Tuesday night to watch the final dances and see who walks away with the mirror ball trophy for season 13!

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