Stars set to shine in 'Dancing' finale
By SANDY COHEN
One more day until a new "Dancing" champ is crowned. Who will it be?
The final slate is set, with singer and former Hawai'i resident Nicole Scherzinger, Olympic figure skater Evan Lysacek and sportscaster Erin Andrews competing for the mirrorball trophy tonight and tomorrow.
Lysacek and Scherzinger have topped the judges' leaderboard throughout the spring season, and finished with identical, one-point-from-perfect scores after their semifinal performances. Andrews, whose professional partner is fan favorite Maksim Chmerkovskiy, landed three points behind her fellow finalists.
All said nerves were running high during the semifinals, and they expect it to be worse this week.
"I don't even want to think about it," Andrews said, nervously picking at the sequins on her costume.
Lysacek and his professional partner, Anna Trebunskaya, already are preparing for the final showdown. Timing — on the calendar, not the dance floor — remains their toughest hurdle.
"Our biggest challenge going forward is still his schedule, because he has to skate every night, so ... we have to be very efficient," she said. "Every single finalist is going to have to prepare four dances, we have two on Monday and two on Tuesday, so that's definitely going to add extra pressure and stress. But we're just going to go into it and enjoy it."
Scherzinger said she's focusing on fun rather than worrying about the competition.
"I made it this far, and now you've got to just release and have fun with it," she said.
Her professional partner, Derek Hough, said the key is to keep challenging themselves.
"As long as you keep pushing yourself and competing with yourself, you'll always come up with the best things," he said. "Once you start focusing on other people, that's where you go wrong, because you start playing to their strengths and not yours."
The history of the hit ABC show, now in its 10th season, offers a few clues as to who could win.
Gender-wise, it's pretty fairly split, with five men and four women capturing the crown during past seasons. Three Olympians — speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and gymnast Shawn Johnson — have taken the "Dancing" title.
"Whenever there's been an Olympian in the final, they win," Hough said.
Popularity counts, too. Last season, singer Mya earned higher marks than fellow finalist Donny Osmond, but he became the "Dancing" champ.
Las Vegas oddsmakers rank Lysacek as the likely winner, with Scherzinger a close second. Andrews' odds are 10 to 1.
Fans will have their say today, when the three remaining competitors show off their final dances.