A royal rumba is on the way as Season 23 finale of Dancing with the Stars kicks off this week. Only four contestants remain in the running for the coveted mirrorball trophy: Laurie Hernandez, Jana Kramer, Calvin Johnson Jr., and James Hinchcliffe. Who will come out on top this year?
Following her gold medal performance at the Rio Olympics, USA Today reports that Hernandez and partner Val Chmerkovskiy are leading the pack. Hernandez has been a favorite to win since the first week when she tied with Hinchcliffe for first place.
The duo received top scores all season and have notched perfect scores since their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed waltz on Halloween. Given her performances this year, Gold Derby gives Hernandez the best odds for advancing to the final round.
Jana Kramer experienced a difficult road prior to her appearance on DWTS. The award-winning country singer went through an emotional divorce with Mike Caussin this summer, right before Season 23 started production.
Kramer and her dance partner, Gleb Savchenko, also suffered a few injuries this year. Despite all the struggles — including a recent bout of the flu — Kramer turned things around in Week 5 during the Most Memorable Year Night. She landed a perfect score the following week with a steamy Argentine tango.
Unfortunately, Kramer finished in third place in the semi-final round and is currently the favorite to get eliminated in Monday night’s episode. Kramer, however, is not at the bottom of the leaderboard going into the finale, so she still has a shot at making it through.
Hinchcliffe has been another clear favorite to win it all. The race car driver, who survived a wreck back in May that left him with a broken pelvis, has impressed judges throughout the competition. Hinchcliffe and his partner, Sharna Burgess, have been at the top since Week 5. He received his first perfect score on Halloween for a Viennese Waltz inspired by Suicide Squad.
Hinchcliffe doesn’t have as good as odds as Hernandez in advancing, but it’s a fairly good bet that he’ll advance to the final round. Of course, anything can happen this week and nobody is truly safe.
Calvin Johnson has relied on his physical strength and winning smile this season. The former NFL star and partner Lindsay Arnold started separating themselves since Week 3, nabbing the best score of the night. On Eras Night in Week 7, they tied for first and took home perfect scores on Halloween.
Johnson is at the bottom of the leaderboards and is a logical choice for elimination. That being said, Johnson has a lot of support from fans, who could vote him into the next round, especially considering Kramer’s close calls in previous weeks.
According to Culturess, only three contestants will survive Monday night’s Dancing with the Stars competition and advance to the finale. On Monday, all four celebrities will be tasked with performing an old dance with a new routine in the Redemption Round.
Hinchcliffe will perform the foxtrot to Harry Connick Jr.’s “It Had to Be You,” Hernandez is dancing the Paso Doble to Dorothy’s “Wicked Ones,” Kramer will tango to Zedd’s “Stay the Night,” and Johnson will perform the Viennese Waltz to Ryan Shaw’s “I Am Your Man.”
Each contestant will also give fans a freestyle dance of their choice. The song list for the freestyle performances includes, “Brand New” by Ben Rector, “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets” by The Piano Guys, “Please Mr. Postman” / “I Want You Back” by The Marvelettes and Jackson 5, and “Unstoppable” by Sia.
The top three partners after Monday will advance to the 24-Hour Fusion Challenge Tuesday night. Each celebrity will have one day to perfect a fusion-style for the judges before the Mirrorball trophy winner is selected.
While there’s no telling who will take home the grand prize this year, judge Julianne Hough recently sat down with E! News and revealed that it’s going to be a close one. Who does she think will win it all Tuesday night?
“We’ve got four competitors left. It’s really tight. We obviously have amazing dancers,” Hough shared. “Everybody’s personality is so strong, and everybody is so different and unique. You guys are just going to have to watch tomorrow and Tuesday to see what happens.”
Fans can what the four finalists perform when the two-part season finale of Dancing with the Stars airs Monday and Tuesday night on ABC. Take our poll below to let us know who you think will be the Season 23 champion.
[Featured Image by ABC]