Congratulations go out to all the Dancing With the Stars Season 14 finalists, but especially DWTS pro Peta Murgatroyd, who heads into the Finals for the first time.
Peta was eliminated first on her debut season, unlucky 13, but she's rebounded with a strong chance to win this time with Donald Driver. She’s up against two pros who have won DWTS twice before, but Cheryl Burke and Mark Ballas know better than anyone that a new pro can easily win right out of the gate.
Some pros, like Season 7 starter Lacey Schwimmer, hit the finals in their debut seasons but still lack a Mirror Ball trophy. Longtime pros Kym Johnson and Karina Smirnoff had to work through half a dozen or more partners before becoming champions.
But here’s a rundown of new pros who won within their first two seasons — as Peta could potentially do next week.
Cheryl Burke: Season 1 doesn’t really count, since everyone was new, but Cheryl made her debut on DWTS Season 2 at age 21. She won with Drew Lachey — giving viewers arguably the best Freestyle routine of all time — then returned on Season 3 and won AGAIN, this time with Emmitt Smith. You should pity poor Ian Ziering, the fourth-place finisher on Season 4, for probably being the victim of Seriously, Someone Else Needs To Win Besides Cheryl Syndrome. Cheryl was the original Derek Hough that way.
Julianne Hough: With Cheryl out of the way, new pro Julianne Hough ended up winning Season 4 — which was also her debut season at the even younger age of 18. After taking that trophy with Apolo Anton Ohno, Julianne pulled a Cheryl by winning the next season with Helio Castroneves. Sometimes it just helps to have the momentum.
Mark Ballas: Mark was on a path to win his debut Season 5 with Sabrina Bryan. Instead, they placed seventh in what's considered the most shocking DWTS elimination of all time. Mark bounced back big time on his second season, taking first with Season 6 dominator Kristi Yamaguchi. Mark won again with Shawn Johnson on Season 8, sandwiching Derek Hough's first win with Season 7 champ and future co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet.
Yes, believe it or not, there was a time when Derek was the one struggling to finally snag the Mirror Ball! It took him three seasons to get one. Now he has three trophies. If Peta does not become the pro champion of Season 14, either Mark or Cheryl will join Derek as the next three-time winner. So maybe Derek is quietly rooting for Peta...
Do you think Peta can pull it off? Let us know in the comments.
Watch the next new episode of DWTS on Monday, May 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.
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