Time to chose a Dancing champion

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke worked hard to perfect their waltz.  &#40;ABC&#47;KELSEY MCNEAL</span></div>
May 19, 2009 6:26:13 AM PDT
Let the championship dance-off begin. Shawn Johnson and Gilles Marini came into Tuesday night's "Dancing With the Stars" season finale tied with 58 points.

CAST YOUR VOTE: Who's your Dancing champ?

Fellow finalist Melissa Rycroft was two points behind with 56. All want to win the ABC show's coveted mirror-ball trophy, which host Tom Bergeron described as "18 inches of sparkly splendor."

Viewer votes are combined with judges' scores to determine which celebrity takes home the trophy.

Marini, who appeared in the "Sex and the City" movie, says he already has a place for the show's big prize.

"I made a little shelf in (my daughter's) room," he said. "So hopefully we can put it there."

Marini has topped the judges' leaderboard for weeks. He earned a perfect score of 30 for his paso doble on Monday's show, but said he is "by far the underdog."

"The first time I ever danced was Feb. 9," he said.

Marini and professional partner Cheryl Burke earned 28 points for their freestyle dance.

Johnson, an Olympic gymnast and the show's youngest competitor ever at 17, called the trophy "my new gold medal."

Winning "would mean the world to me," she said Monday. Her freestyle dance earned a perfect score of 30.

"I've worked so hard for this and overcome so many fears," she said. "I was scared to do this. I wasn't sure if I would be able to do it and prove to everybody that I'm more than just a gymnast."

Johnson and professional partner Mark Ballas earned 28 points for their paso doble.

Rycroft, who gained fame when she was proposed to - then dumped - on "The Bachelor," said her 11 weeks on the show have been such a whirlwind, it took awhile for her to acknowledge that she wants the "Dancing" crown.

"I felt bad saying that," she said. "Weird as it sounds, I still almost feel like I don't deserve to be here."

Rycroft and professional partner Tony Dovolani collected 29 points for their paso doble and 27 for their freestyle dance.

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Here's a look at past winners and their professional lives before and after "Dancing With the Stars."

- Season one, Kelly Monaco: A former Playboy Playmate and sometime "Baywatch" star, Monaco, 32, won the inaugural season of the ABC show in 2005 with professional partner Alec Mazo. Once taking the trophy, she scored a recurring role on the TV soap "General Hospital." She is now appearing opposite fellow "Dancing" alumna Melanie Brown in "Peepshow," a burlesque-inspired production at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

- Season two, Drew Lachey: A member of the boy band 98 Degrees with his brother Nick Lachey, Drew Lachey performed on Broadway in "Rent" and "Monty Python's Spamalot" before joining the "Dancing" cast. After winning in 2006 with professional partner Cheryl Burke, he co-hosted the Miss USA pageant, joined the "Dancing With the Stars" tour and filled in as the show's host while Samantha Harris was on maternity leave. He appeared on the ABC show again this season to weigh in on the latest contestants and what they need to become champions. Lachey, 32, can next be seen on "HGTV's $250,000 Challenge," a series debuting May 31 that has families competing for cash through home-improvement challenges.

- Season three, Emmitt Smith: The National Football League's all-time leading rusher, Smith won three Super Bowl championships as a running back for the Dallas Cowboys. With Burke as his partner, he took the "Dancing" title in November 2006, opening the ballroom door for future NFL players. The following year, Smith joined ESPN as an analyst and appeared on the sports network's "Monday Night Countdown" and "NFL Sunday Countdown" shows. The network did not renew his contract for 2009.

- Season four, Apolo Anton Ohno: An Olympic speed skater, Ohno won gold medals in 2002 and 2006. After claiming the mirror ball in 2007 with professional partner Julianne Hough, Ohno, 27, returned to skating. He took gold in the world championships in 2007 and 2008 and said he intends to compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

- Season five, Helio Castroneves: A Brazilian IndyCar driver, Castroneves won the Indianapolis 500 in 2001 and 2002 before taking the "Dancing" title with Hough in the fall of 2007. In October 2008, he was charged with federal tax evasion and conspiracy. He was acquitted last month on six counts of tax evasion and the jury was hung on the conspiracy charge. Days after his court victory, the 33-year-old returned to racing at the Grand Prix of Long Beach and he's now preparing for the Indianapolis 500.

- Season six, Kristi Yamaguchi: A championship figure skater, Yamaguchi won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics, established her charitable Always Dream Foundation in 1996 and was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2005. The 37-year-old won the "DWTS" trophy in 2008 with professional partner Mark Ballas, and has gone on to become the face of Nicole by OPI nail colors and Kellogg's FiberPlus bars. She will host a fundraising gala to benefit her charity - featuring performances by the "Dancing With the Stars" pros - on May 30 in San Francisco.

- Season seven, Brooke Burke: A model and TV personality, Burke hosted "Wild On!" on E! Entertainment channel and the "Rock Star" talent contest in CBS. She won the "Dancing" crown with partner Derek Hough in November 2008. Earlier this year, the 37-year-old helped host NBC's pre-show for the Golden Globe Awards.

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On the Net:

http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index?pnindex


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