If anything, this season of Dancing With the Stars has been controversial. Whether you believe Bristol Palin deserved a place in the finals or not, there’s no denying she earned it with hard work, improvement and dedication. Following an all-star opening that saw the majority of season 11’s contestants return, (Audrina Patridge was absent due to illness and Michael Bolton is on tour in England) the three remaining couples were left to battle it out with their final two dances for the night.

Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer kicked off the proceedings, scoring 26 out of 30 for their tango and 28 points for their instant cha cha. Bristol and Mark Ballas continued their respectable scores, receiving 25 for a tango and 27 for their instant cha cha. But it was Jennifer Grey, whose time on the show has been fraught with injury, who revealed early in the evening that she had ruptured a disc in her spine. However, not dancing was never an option and Jennifer and partner Derek Hough scored another perfect 30 for their Viennese waltz and another 28 points for their instant cha cha.

With the dances done all that was left was to reveal the winner. Sadly for Bristol and Mark, it would not be them as the news was given they would be the first couple eliminated. “I feel I accomplished a lot,” Bristol said after the news. “I am just so thankful for Mark as he started from scratch with this whole thing.”

As the spotlight turned to Kyle and Jennifer, both waited nervously to hear who would be this season’s champions. Finally, host Tom Bergeron revealed it was Jennifer and Derek. “I was blank,” said a shocked Jennifer after the show. “I was in a surrender moment. It’s a great gift to be a part of a show that gives so many people so much joy, that’s what it is.”

There were no hard feelings from Kyle and Lacey either. “Jennifer worked extremely hard and probably went through the most on this show – so many ups and downs,” beamed Kyle. “And for us to get second next to Jennifer is so awesome,” added Lacey.

For more with this season’s three final couples, click here.


Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough
Winners DWTS season 11

Your freestyle garnered so much positive attention as it paid homage to Patrick Swayze, and Dirty Dancing, yet was fresh. Whose idea was it?
Thank you and we collaborated so much. Derek is so talented in terms of concept and detail and wants to make memorable dances.

Is this win a surprise?
We never thought about winning. Our goal was to do memorable dances and that is what he told me when I met him. That is why I was so completely thrilled and blessed to get him as a partner. I feel very grateful as Derek is the real deal and he gets all of it – he gets the big picture and is not just a dancer at all. I think he is capable of all of it.

What was going through your head standing up there waiting?
I was blank. I was in a surrender moment. Whatever happens would be great because the absolute destination for me was the journey and in the truest sense this journey was the gift. Saying yes was the gift. Getting Derek as a partner was a HUGE gift and the fact that my family stood by me and let me go away for three months and do this day in and day out. And the fact that my doctors kept putting me together. Dr. Bray was just available to me every time I hurt myself and kept putting me back together.

When did you rupture your disc?
I think it may have been in one of those flips or kicks or splits.
Derek: She might have doing it getting into a car (laughs).
Jennifer: When you dance with a 25-year-old it’s a risk you take.

Given your connection to dance, is there a special significance to winning?
I just think the fact I got to have my first success in a movie that gave so many people so much joy and people loved watching it and were like “great” for that time they were watching it. And now to be part of a show that people watch and are transported for that couple of hours a week — it just means so much to those people. And there is so much fun and glamour and silliness.
Derek: It’s great to be a part of.
Jennifer: It’s a great gift to be a part of a show that gives so many people so much joy, that’s what it is.

What’s next?
I have no idea. Just try and get through this and enjoy every moment and try and soak it all up.

Do you feel like America’s sweetheart again?
I just feel like a very, very lucky woman.

Q: How will you reward your husband for his patience through all of this?
Lets keep it PG.
Jennifer: I gotta tell you this ruptured disc is throwing a monkey wrench in my plans but I am sure I’ll recover from this very soon and will be able to make it up to my daughter and husband as they were so patient. And my devilishly sexy husband waiting for me and letting me dance with Derek for three months and be the most amazing husband and father. We have the greatest kid in the world.

Q: Where are you putting the trophy?
In the kid’s room. She earned it, she stood by my side.


First runners-up
Kyle Massey & Lacey Schwimmer

Are you bummed you didn’t win?
We all made it to the finals and that is something to be so proud of.

What went through your mind when you heard you beat Bristol?
Oh man… It felt awesome to make it to the top two because the last thing we expected was to be one of the last couples standing, so that is awesome.
Lacey: Oh he whispered to me, I am hungry.
Kyle: I haven’t eaten all day. That’s because it doesn’t feel right to eat anything before, in that you should just go out there and do it. But afterwards… you are soooo hungry. As soon as we were eliminated, I was like, when can we eat?

Do you think the controversy surrounding Bristol might hurt Sarah Palin’s plans for the White House?
I love her family and we got to know them and they are awesome, so good luck to them – all of them.

Thoughts on Jennifer winning?
Jennifer worked extremely hard and probably went through the most on this show – so many ups and downs.
Lacey: And for us to get second next to Jennifer is so awesome. I thought from day one she’d win so for us, let’s just make it through the first week. So we are super-proud of ourselves.

Did you follow the controversy and did it hinder rehearsals at all?
If I can’t get Kyle to listen to me in rehearsals, there’s a chance he’s not listening to anything else going on.
Kyle: I don’t pay attention. And at the end of the day it didn’t affect us. We were just concentrating on the dancing.
Lacey: I didn’t really pay attention.

What are you doing next?
We are back in the studio finishing the album, which should be done in a few months. Working on some movies and I have an animated show Fish Hooks coming out. My brother and I have show called World’s Funniest Moments with Erik Estrada so there is tons going on.

Will you keep the weight off?
I am thinking of buying an abs lounge because I heard they make your abs really buff.


Second runners-up
Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas

What do you feel you accomplished by making it through so far?
I feel I accomplished a lot. rI am just so thankful for Mark as he started from scratch with this whole thing and thankful that he took on this challenge and I have had the time of my life.

What didn’t you expect when you signed on to do this?
I didn’t expect to be so consumed by all of this and learning the new dances, I was just consumed in a good way.

You said winning would be like giving the middle finger to your detractors, did you feel like actually doing it through this whole thing?
Yeah, I did.
Mark: I think tonight proves that. If this was the Olympics and we were on that podium we’d have that bronze medal and be happy to be here. This is a celebration tonight for Derek and Jennifer as they danced so well and I was there picking him up again for the third time – he’s the first pro to do it. This is a great night! Kyle came second, it’s a great night.

Bronze isn’t bad at all?
Bronze is dope. When you have all the odds against you, it’s great.

What would you like to say to your critics?
They are not worth talking to.
Mark: I’d say watch the show for what it is – it’s a dance show – so enjoy it. Life is too short and there are a lot bigger things happening in the world. We have soldiers out of the country, people starving all over the earth, so enjoy a dance show that brings you joy and light at the end of the day and enjoy life. Stop giving yourself a heart attack, it’s all good and we are all healthy.

You said you wanted to do a panel-type show?
Like a sitdown discussion thing.
Mark: What about Hunting With the Stars?
Bristol: I could host that.
Mark: Totally.

Have you made any work plans?
No, all I know is I want to spend time with my family and see what the options are.
Mark: I heard you were going on tour with Chicago as Roxy.
Bristol: That’s just a rumor.

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