LOS ANGELES (AP) — The ladies are in the lead at “Dancing With the Stars.”
Sportscaster Erin Andrews and singer Nicole Scherzinger tied for the top spot on the next-to-last episode of the ABC dance-off, while fellow finalist Evan Lysacek finished third.
The Olympic figure skater collected 52 points out of 60 for his two dances. Andrews and Scherzinger each earned 55 points.
Each couple performed a freestyle routine and a “redemption dance” in a style the judges thought they should have excelled in but didn’t.
Andrews’ redemption dance earned the highest score of the night: 29 points out of 30 for the samba she performed with professional partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
“The improvement from the last time you danced the samba is fantastic,” said head judge Len Goodman, who gave the couple a perfect 10.
“You moved yourself up three notches,” echoed judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who also gave the pair a 10.
The couple earned 26 points for their sexy freestyle routine, a modern dance that used a sofa and a bed as props and saw Andrews in a floaty nightgown.
Scherzinger and pro partner Derek Hough danced a romantic, redemptive rumba that earned them 28 points out of 30.
Judge Bruno Tonioli gave the pair a perfect 10, describing the dance as “sensuality and romance seamlessly woven into something of extreme beauty.”
The couple’s high-energy freestyle dance wowed the crowd — and the judges. They began in matching sequined tuxedos with bright green shoes, but Scherzinger shed her suit halfway through the routine to reveal a sparkly green bra and matching leggings. The gymnastic routine featured various dance styles and a tricky lift that the couple slipped up at the end.
“I saw lindy hop. I saw salsa. I saw quickstep. I saw jive,” Goodman said. “I saw fun. I saw entertainment. I saw a fantastic freestyle.”
Lysacek and professional partner Anna Trebunskaya collected 28 points for their redemptive Viennese waltz. Inaba, who gave the pair a perfect 10, called the dance a “beautiful, emotional dream.”
But the couple faltered on their freestyle, turning in a disjointed dance to “Footloose” that earned them the night’s lowest score: 24 points out of 30.
“That was odd,” Inaba said, adding that the pair looked like they were “dancing two completely separate dances.”
Judges’ scores are combined with viewer votes to determine who will take home the mirrorball trophy during Tuesday’s season finale.
All three finalists will perform their favorite dance of the season to begin Tuesday’s episode, and all chose the same dance: the Argentine tango. The two top scorers will then face off with one final dance before the new champ is named.
The season’s previously eliminated stars — actors Pamela Anderson, Shannen Doherty, Niecy Nash and Aiden Turner; reality stars Jake Pavelka and Kate Gosselin; astronaut Buzz Aldrin; and football star Chad Ochocinco — will also perform new dances to close out the 10th season of the hit show.