Photo Credit: ABC
It was the battle of the Olympic figure-skater versus a Pussycat Doll on the final episode of this season's Dancing with the Stars -- and in the end, only one would prevail.
When the final scores were in, it was Nicole Scherzinger and her partner, Derek Hough, who took home the coveted mirror-ball trophy, leaving Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya in second place. ESPN sports reporter Erin Andrews and her pro dance partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, came in third.
"I feel like I just won a dancing Grammy," Scherzinger told AOL TV after the finale. "Now I want to go work on getting a real one. Personally, this has been the greatest reward. I've gotten to know so much about myself and about Derek Hough. He's made me a better person through this."
Hough, feeling "fantastic," chimed in, "This is the best feeling ever, not only because we've had the best season, but I've had the best time (with Nicole) exploring things I've never been able to do."
Frontrunners from the beginning, Hough said he and his partner never let it go to their head. "We never, ever took it for granted. We knew expectations were high and every single week we fought tooth and nail to do the best we could."
Lysacek was just as gracious about his second-place finish. "It's been such a blast," he told host Tom Bergeron. "We were totally satisfied with everything we gave in these last few weeks. And we're so proud of Nicole and Derek. They worked so hard and they deserve it."
The final score had Nicole and Derek with 115 and Evan and Anna with 108.
Andrews, who was eliminated during the show, got misty about the effect the show has had on her. "I came here under really crummy circumstances, and I just wanted to get my life together and my smile back," Andrews said. "I just wanted to be myself again...and you guys have been amazing and my family -- and this one [Maksim] -- has just put my life back together."
For their final hurrah, the three final couples chose to reprise an Argentine tango from earlier in the season. The judges ranked them, and those scores were added to Monday night's performances, as well as viewer votes. Scherzinger and Hough received the top ranking.
"You guys are truly artistry in motion," judge Carrie Ann Inaba said of the eventual champs.
Also taking the stage one more time were most season 10 cast-offs, including Buzz Aldrin and Pamela Anderson (though Chad Ochocinco had to sit out, due to a football injury). Bachelor Jake Pavelka and fiance Vienna Girardi wowed the crowd with a waltz, while Kate Gosselin made her big return with a reprise of her infamous "Paparazzi" dance with partner Tony Dovolani.
Though season 10 saw all the contestants dance their hearts out, only one couple could be called the champs. "This has been the tightest competition that Dancing with the Stars has ever seen," Lycacek's pro partner Trebunskaya said. "Nicole and Erin were phenomenal."
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