“Dancing with the Stars” ended on a surprising note May 12 as Olympic champion and former competition front runners Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough were eliminated just a week shy of the finals, but that wasn’t the only jaw-dropping moment the evening held. During the broadcast, pro Valentin Chmerkovskiy got into hot water with fans with his remarks about the gold medalist, and backlash prompted him to hit Twitter with an explanation on May 13.
During a taped segment that featured the then-four remaining pros talking about the strengths and weaknesses of the celebs still gunning for the mirror ball trophy, Allison Holker, Sharna Burgess, and Hough all offered up criticisms of their competition that could easily be spun into positives. Burgess called singer Riker Lynch’s biggest faults his “youth and energy” and noted that model Rumer Willis is often “too hard on herself,” while Holker wished for more confidence and comfort from war vet and double amputee Noah Galloway.
When it came time for Chmerkovskiy to comment on Liukin, he called her perfect, but went on to note that her perfection makes her “a bit uninteresting.” The remark sounded like sour grapes, especially in light of Chmerkovskiy and Hough’s respective mirror ball trophy collections: Hough has five, while Chmerkovsky has yet to score one over eight attempts.
According to a Glamour article, Hough was less than impressed with Chmerkovskiy’s comment, and approached him after the package aired with his own no-so-tongue-in-cheek reaction: “Thanks. Classy, bro, classy.” Chmerkovskiy then supposedly apologized to Liukin.
He took the apology public on May 13, tweeting that his comment was taken “out of context” and that he has “the utmost respect for them as a couple, him as a teacher, and her as a person.” Chmerkovskiy did not elaborate on precisely how the comment was taken out of context.
Despite their elimination, Liukin and Hough left without hard feelings. During a post-show interview with AfterBuzz TV, Liukin thanked Hough for teaching her that perfection isn’t about being perfect, while Hough opined that they’d ended their journey on “a beautiful note” by performing an emotional Viennese waltz that featured long-time head just Len Goodman.
“Dancing with the Stars” season 20 continues May 18 on ABC as the three remaining couples –Galloway and Burgess, Lynch and Holker, and Willis and Chmerkovksiy– perform their final routines. After one last public vote, the winner will be revealed on the May 19 season finale.