ABC’s Dancing with the Stars revealed this season’s final three competing couples last Monday night along with the season’s biggest shocker -- Olympic gymnast Simone Biles (for many a shoe-in to win) was not one of them. Biles was ousted after receiving a perfect 80 out of 80 score for her jive and rumba, proving Season 24 has been one of the most unpredictable in the show’s history. Biles’ untimely ousting not only surprised the show’s judges, all whom collectively gasped at the elimination, but that of the remaining finalists, as well. “At this point it’s anyone's game,” frontrunner Normani Kordei (pictured at top) told me after the show. “I am so proud of Simone. She has grown tremendously as a person and as a talent. We’ve become best friends. She is very special!”
“It's tough,” offered Rashad Jennings, while his partner Emma Slater had personal reasons to be devastated -- her fiancé, Sasha Farber, was Biles’ partner.
“Personally it wasn’t even on my radar that [they] would go home,” she revealed. “It's horrible and disappointing that they're not competing anymore but they [are] happy and positive and Simone is already reflecting that it’s one of the best things she's ever done.”
“My heart hurts a little bit to see Simone go,” shared David Ross. “I'm shocked about [me advancing] and Simone [leaving]. My heart hurt and I didn't feel like I could celebrate on stage because I honestly felt bad.
“I felt like, why am I taking her spot?” he continued. “I don’t know if I should feel that way or not but I do. I'm super happy I'm going on but there is a part of me that hurts for her. It's hard. This is a family. We're friends. It's hard to see anybody go.”
Biles took the news in stride, describing it as “a blessing in disguise.” She’s looking forward to a little downtime. “I’ve been going non-stop since the Olympics and I feel like I couldn’t ask for more,” she said. “What Sasha has done for me over the season … I found out a lot about myself.
“I am going to miss Sasha,” she continued. “And I am going to miss irritating him. I’ll take some time off and finally relax, take some vacations and have some family and friends time ... then train for the Olympics. Oh, wait! I am taking a year off! Wait! Wait!”
The night was also the perfect opportunity for those competing in next week’s finals to reflect on their highlights of the season thus far.
“I'd have to say the contemporary dance for my father,” Jennings said. “That was more than a dance as I poured my heart out and I felt like an artist. There were true tears, a true story and my family was there to experience it all so I'll take that with me beyond the show.”
“My favorite moment was the waltz,” Ross shared. “I focused on the dance so hard and all the thought that [partner] Lindsay put in to picking the song for me and the beauty of the song, then I got my highest score, all nines! That was a big turning point for me.”
Kordei said she has had so much fun on the show that picking one moment was inconceivable. “I think each week carries something special,” she smiled.
With the finals now just days away each couple let me in on we can expect to see next week.
“I want to share with the world that she is a young woman who is very grateful to be in the position that she is in,” said Kordei’s partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy. “She is willing to create art that motivates others, not just dwell on her blessings but really share them with the world!”
“I want to show everything,” offered Ross’ partner Lindsay Arnold. “We’ve seen so much from David, which is so cool and what makes him different to everyone else in the finals. He’s the most improved and while he may not be the best dancer left, I can comfortably say he’s the most improved and I want to showcase that. We’re going to pull out all we’ve got and have fun.”
“But when she says pull out all we’ve got we are keeping the clothes on!” Ross laughed.
As for Jennings, he has his own ideas. “I'm just hoping to show off,” he joked. “I'm excited for this and have no idea what Emma is going to choreograph. I was able to give her a little bit of music that I like to dance to, have fun with and could see myself doing. I want everybody to enjoy it, that’s what I want. When I’m on the dance floor I want viewers to feel that they are on the dance floor. If they’re at home [they can] get up and start dancing on the couch. That’s what I want.”
The Season 24 finals of Dancing with the Stars will be telecast Monday at 8 p.m. and Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.
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