Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s looks and personality tend to dominate every season, but he really stood out this season. His journey with Hope Solo didn’t turn out the way any of us expected, but it definitely put Team MakSolo and their loyal fans on the defensive — against the judges, but also against anyone else who challenged Maks in any way.
He headlined the season and kept everyone talking week to week, whether the conversation was positive or charged. If "The Bad Boy of the Ballroom" doesn’t return for Season 14, there will definitely be a lull in the conversation. But if he does want to take a break, maybe now is the best time — since he’s already heavily in the public eye, from The Ballroom Brawl headlines to People Magazine’s sexiest list. Strike while the iron is hot?
We love all three of the new competing pros, as well as the DWTS troupe newbies, but it shouldn’t be too much of a shock that we’re giving this award to our favorite leprechaun, Tristan MacManus.
Tristan made quite the debut on Season 13, managing to take Nancy Grace all the way to Week 8 while bringing out her funny and even sexy side. Who knew? It became a highlight of our DWTS week to see The Bickersons shout over each other. Just picture Nancy dancing with any other pro and you really appreciate how much warmth, humor, positivity and paaaaaatience Tristan brought to Team MacGrace. We can’t wait to see more of Tristan and there’s no freakin’ way he’s not coming back for another season. Even if we have to drag him...
Derek Hough was gone on Season 12 but we knew our favorite show-off couldn’t stay out of the ballroom for long. This show just suits him and for the fourth time he ended up in the finals. Along the way, the patient professor gave Ricki Lake her own Cinderella story — turning a 40-something overweight mom into a slim, sexy, occasionally confident dancer.
He makes it all look easy. He also learns from his mistakes. Back on Season 6 he had a hissy fit with his partner/girlfriend Shannon Elizabeth. After that fallout, he learned it’s important to curb your temper — in particular, not to throw other contestants under the bus out of frustration with the scores. Derek, never leave us again.
Cheryl Burke didn’t dominate many headlines this season, even though she had her own People Magazine blog and her partner, Rob Kardashian, is part of the Kardashian empire that blanketed the tabloid news cycle. Cheryl kept Rob focused, helping him slowly improve each week, the way celebs are supposed to. Even though he has that Kardashian following, Cheryl helped position Rob as an underdog — a shy, “normal” guy, insecure about his body, just trying to find himself as an individual apart from his family.
Rob got to second place because of Cheryl, who made it to the finals a record fifth time without much fanfare about it. (She won with Drew Lachey, won with Emmitt Smith, got third with Cristian de la Fuente and second with Gilles Marini.) If you’re a male celeb and you want to make it far on DWTS, Cheryl is your best bet.