This is it. The Dancing With the Stars Season 14 Mirror Ball trophy is about to find another forever home. Will it go to Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas, William Levy & Cheryl Burke or Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd?
We’ve already shared a few reasons why Donald & Peta will win, but we love all the finalists, so here are four reasons it’s gonna be The Welsh Wiggler & The Guy With The Ever-Changing Accent. (Stay tuned for reasons Team Fuego will burn the floor to victory.)
1. Katherine is the best dancer of the season
Period. The best dancer does not always win, but more often than not the judges and fans combine powers in the end to anoint the most talented person as the champion — even if that person was a “ringer” from the start, like Kristi Yamaguchi, Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Grey or J.R. Martinez. Katherine has gotten the top score — shared or otherwise — for five weeks of the past nine, which is more than anyone else. It was clear from day one that she was already the strongest dancer technically and, when paired with Mark’s imaginative choreography, her creativity came out shining. If the best overall dancer should win DWTS, then Katherine should win DWTS.
2. She’s adorable
It’s hard not to like Katherine. Even people who might ordinarily be threatened by a gorgeous Barbie doll blonde with a perfect body, perfect singing voice and natural dance talent, can’t help but warm up to the sweet, star-struck, humble girl with the cute Welsh accent who seems so genuinely shocked and thrilled to still be around each week. Katherine seems to be more appreciative of this experience than anyone else this season — never feeling like she’s earned more than she’s been given and just happy to be around for one more day. You’d never know she’s a huge, international star. She acts like this is all just a dream come true and she can’t imagine how it happened. And she seems to really mean it!
3. Mark is changing up his Freestyle
Mark already has two Mirror Ball trophies from Seasons 6 and 8, but the last two times he's made it to the Finals he's been stuck in third — Season 11 with Bristol Palin and Season 12 with Chelsea Kane. Bristol is lucky to have made it that far, frankly, but Chelsea was incredibly talented and, like Katherine, a somewhat lesser-known star making her first big splash with mainstream audiences on DWTS. Donald Driver has Packer Nation behind him and not only is William Levy bringing the Latin community, he appears to have every other straight woman and gay man reaching for the phones. Mark has to do something to set Katherine apart and since he's definitely one of the most innovative choreographers, he's going to stretch himself this season like never before. "This one's very different from me, put it that way,” Mark told On the Red Carpet of their Freestyle plans. “It's not going to be like 'I know what Mark's going to do' like maybe you could've in the past. It's different this time." So maybe we shouldn't expect the poppy, energetic, Jive-ish routines we've seen in the past. This could work in his favor or backfire and we won’t know until it’s done.
4. They have a sweet, wholesome chemistry
Yeah, Mark danced shirtless and Katherine keeps talking about shaking her “naughty bits,” but these two are like the cute kids next door you just want to hug and send off on the school bus with a nice packed lunch.
William and Donald are both big, sexy guys and Cheryl and Peta have no problem playing sexy right back at them, but Mark and Katherine have mostly stayed away from the kissy-kissy-sexy-sexy stuff, choosing instead to focus on clean, crisp, innovative choreography and a warm, friendship-based connection. There’s no drama between the two of them and neither one has gotten so worked up and competitive that they scream expletives or get too intense.
Katherine definitely gets nervous and emotional, mostly because she’s always sure she’ll be the next to go home, but Mark is good at balancing out that energy. She powered through her wardrobe malfunction in the Week 8 “trio” dance, but when she (OK, maybe he) messed up the end of their Salsa on the Semifinals, she started to panic and apologize. Mark just kept saying “I got you, I got you.”
That kind of unconditional support is very endearing (from both of them) and worth voting for, which is partly how they made it to the Finals after being at the bottom of the judges’ leaderboard. If they win, it will be partly because of their dancing but also because they were such a sweet, low-key, lovable team.
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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