Aly Raisman won gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics, but it wasn't her night for victory on "Dancing With the stars." The Needham native was the first contestant to be eliminated on Tuesday night's finale, ranking fourth place among the remaining dancers.
Raisman pulled off a routine Monday night that judge Carrie Ann Inaba said was one of the best she's ever seen on the ABC show, but the futuristic super-sized freestyle routine ultimately wasn't enough to win her the Mirror Ball trophy. She also danced an improved samba over one she did with partner Mark Ballas earlier this season.
"This has been the best experience of my life. Thank you 'Dancing With the Stars'," Raisman said after she was voted off, wishing the final contestants good luck.
The top three celebrity dancers performed "instant dances" with their partners as the last step along their journey to the top. NFL Star Jacoby Jones danced the samba with partner Karina Smirnoff; country singer and "American Idol" alum Kellie Pickler did a jive with partner Derek Hough; and 16-year-old Disney star Zendaya performed her version of the jive with partner Val Chmerkovskiy. Earlier in the night, Pickler was voted back onto the dance floor for an encore performance of her moving freestyle routine with Hough (the pair did the dance together for the first time Monday night in a performance that brought Inaba and Pickler herself to tears).
In the end, the couple that wound up in third place was Jones and Smirnoff.
And the winner of the coveted title? Pickler and Hough reigned supreme (not a bad way for longtime "Dancing" pro Hough to end what could be his last season on the show).
Meanwhile, Zendaya graciously accepted the number two spot. "I'm very proud, I'm very happy, and I get to leave here with an amazing experience, so I'm happy," she said.
The performance-packed episode featured "Gangnam Style" sensation PSY with his latest single, "Gentleman." Pitbull also took the stage in addition to singer Wynonna Judd, who was among the former "Dancing" contestants eliminated earlier this season, and Jessica Sanchez helped wrap things up with her single, "Feel This Moment." The show's professional dancers worked the dance floor in between segments featuring the contestants, including a number dedicated to all the ladies of the show, both professional and celebrity stars, in which they all performed to Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)."
Former contestants from this season returned to dance one last time with their partners. Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill, who left the show early on because of injury, made a graceful return. In a surprise twist, she was joined by another former "Dancing" star and fellow Olympic champion, Kristi Yamaguchi. Hamill said Yamaguchi was her inspiration to do the show in the first place.
And that's a wrap for season 16.
What did you think? Were you surprised Raisman was the first of the final four to go? Should Pickler have won the title? Share your thoughts here in the comments.
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Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
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Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.