Maks Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis Win 'Dancing with the Stars'

Maks Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis, winners of Dancing with the Stars
Maks Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis, winners of Dancing with the Stars

Pro dancer Maksim "Maks" Chmerkovskiy and his celebrity partner, Olympic champion Meryl Davis, have been crowned the winners of Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) season 18. Pro Derek Hough and athlete Amy Purdy took second place; pro Mark Ballas and actress Candace Cameron Bure came in third. Maks and Meryl, who were noted throughout the season for their technical prowess and smoldering "are-they-or-aren't-they" chemistry, were awarded the coveted Mirrorball Trophy at the end of the show's star-studded, two-hour finale. Maks has competed on 13 seasons of DWTS; this was his first win.

For the Dancing with the Stars finale, each of the three remaining couples competed in a "24-hour Fusion Challenge," performing two ballroom styles in a number that they had one day to learn. Amy and Derek combined Argentine tango and cha cha for a perfect score of 30; Candace and Mark (who was dancing with a shoulder injury) combined quickstep and samba for a total score of 27; Meryl and Maks combined fox trot and cha cha for a perfect score of 30.

The entire season 18 cast, including Meryl's skating partner Charlie White (he and pro Sharna Burgess were eliminated in week 7), was on hand to dance during the finale. "Team Loco," comprised of several of this season's DWTS couples, performed their group routine live for the first time to Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca." On the week they were scheduled to perform the number, they were judged on their video-taped run-through as Amy Purdy was injured during the rehearsal. Pro Peta Murgatroyd and singer/actor James Maslow, who were one of the final four couples and the 8th eliminated, were chosen by Twitter vote to perform an encore of their cool freestyle dance to "Original Don"by Major Lazer featuring The Partysquad.

Musical guests for the finale were Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea with Charli XCX, Christina Perri (who sang during the show's tense final moments as the couples waited to hear the results), contestant Cody Simpson (he and pro partner Witney Carson were cut during week 3) and reigning DWTS champion Amber Riley.

Dancing with the Stars is hosted by Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, and the live band is led by Ray Chew. The routines are judged by Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and Len Goodman, who, during the May 20 finale, casually slipped in the bombshell revelation that this season of DWTS may have been his last. Fans are wondering if this was Maks' final season too: at one point during the May 19 show (part 1 of the finale), Meryl said she was honored to be doing his last freestyle dance with him. Is Maks leaving Dancing with the Stars?

Fans are also curious as to whether the chemistry displayed during Maks and Meryl's routines was just part of their performances, or evidence of a budding romance. Following their emotional freestyle dance on the previous night's show (that had many people in tears), Carrie Ann Inaba said she hoped they'd get married. Then, during a taped segment shown during the finale, Maks spoke about Meryl and joked, "I want to ravage her and have ice-skating, big mean Russian babies." When Meryl was questioned about their relationship she said, "I can't talk about that" and turned away from the camera. They would definitely make a gorgeous couple; we'll keep you you posted.

Photo credit: Adam Taylor / ABC

Posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2014