Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno fell short in his bid to win the “Dancing with the Stars” mirror ball trophy for the second time.
Apolo, who won Season 4 with partner Julianne Hough in 2007, was eliminated in the semifinals of “All-Stars” on Tuesday night with partner Karina Smirnoff. They finished fifth on a double elimination night in which another athlete, NFL football icon Emmitt Smith, was also given the boot.
After the show, Apolo couldn’t have been calmer, telling reporters with Karina by his side, “It’s been a long, incredible, challenging, and very fulfilling season. Every single week we came out and gave one hundred percent. It’s tough. As a competitor, you want to go to the final. You want the opportunity to fight for the mirror ball trophy but at the same time, I’m proud. I was happy with whatever the result was going to be.”
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The gold medal winning star said he grew as a person during a very competitive season: “I’ve been able to show different aspects of my personality that I normally reserve for my very closest friends and family to millions of people who watch the show.”
But Apolo and Karina’s season unraveled Monday night when, incredibly, the speed skater slipped during their Big Top Jazz routine. Apolo blamed the bobble on one of his shoes sticking to the ballroom floor. The judges noticed the mistake and also thought the circus-themed routine was too odd, only giving them 27 out of 30.
Still, Apolo strongly defended the dance, telling xfinityTV, “I personally thought that her Big Top Jazz choreography was absolutely amazing and it was supposed to be strange. It was supposed to be out there and abstract and avant-garde, and I think that’s something we’ve never seen before on the show and it was a risk and I thought it was one that we both said, ‘let’s do it.’ “
And Karina laughed that it was better than “pulling a baby elephant onto the floor and doing tricks with it!”
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More seriously, the longtime “DWTS” pro added, “When you don’t get the opportunity to go to the final, you start obviously looking inside and seeing what could have been bad or what you could have done better — but no. I think it’s great to see different dances. I think it’s great the producers are pushing us dancers to push our celebs even more.”
Karina got a premonition they might be eliminated after judges had them perform the encore dance of their rumba (their second Monday night dance), which had earned them a perfect score of 30. “At first, I was like, yay! And then I’m like, wait, is that a bad thing?” Karina said.
Apolo raved about the rumba, “We connected on a level spiritually, emotionally, physically that we’ve not had on the season so far, and I felt like we were in a bubble. We were dancing together and it was an amazing experience.”
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Karina was thrilled her friend, Tony Dovolani, will be going to the season finale with Melissa Rycroft. “It’s Season 15 [for him] and he didn’t have a lot of opportunities to be in the final before, not because he wasn’t able to get there, but sometimes, as dancers, we have to work with what we have and Tony has an amazing opportunity, and to me, he is the underdog so I want him to do well. I’m rooting for him. I’m going to ask my fans to root for Tony and Melissa, too.”
But Apolo is rooting for his fellow Olympian, Shawn Johnson, whom he called “my baby sister!” Apolo plans to compete at the next winter Olympics while Karina will film a movie with her Season 12 partner, actor Ralph Macchio.