“Dancing with the Stars” frontrunner J.R. Martinez stumbled badly on Monday night’s semifinal show, winding up in third place after suffering an agonizing ankle injury in rehearsal. And he couldn’t keep up with surging Rob Kardashian, who emerged from the shadow of his famous family as he finished second to Ricki Lake.
Backstage after the show, J.R., Rob, Ricki and Hope Solo (who finished fourth in scoring) spoke to reporters about the shocking outcome that no one saw coming.
The war veteran who had blown away the field on “Dancing With the Stars” just last week with two perfect scores of 30 was in torment after he injured his ankle while rehearsing with partner Karina Smirnoff. On Monday, judges gave them just 23 and 27 in two individual dances, and scored the pair third in the cha cha relay.
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“It was a tough night,” J.R. sighed afterwards. “Saturday I tweaked my ankle. It’s an ankle I’ve had surgery on before so it’s definitely weak. I felt kind of solid about it earlier today and we were able to get to dress rehearsal and carry out the routines but in the Paso [doble] there’s a lot of stomping and a lot of aggressive moves and at the end I do that jump and I ended on my knees and all the support came down on my ankle and it really re-tweaked it and so I re-injured it. And it hurts right now but as swollen as it is and as much as it hurts, it’s more [about] frustration.”
J.R. said he wasn’t able to perform the Paso Doble and Argentine tango up to his ability, as he got scores of 23 and 27 in those dances, respectively. “These two dances I really wanted to nail. These are different style dances that everyone’s seen me do this season and so I really wanted to show everybody that I was capable of going to that character, to that aggressive side and carry that out.”
He revealed that his injury even prevented him from completing the dances as he and Karina had intended. In fact, after the Argentine tango, J.R. was so upset he was seen on camera uttering the F word. “The Argentine tango was tough because we actually had one more lift to do—we were going to end where I picked her up and she slid down my leg and that was going to be ending position and it just wasn’t there,” he explained. “I couldn’t do it and so I literally was just barely able to pull her up and I just went into a hug.”
They also re-tooled their Paso Doble and cha cha routines. In the Paso, “one of the moves I was supposed to jump up and land on my right leg and carry out the move and it just wasn’t there and I lost my balance even though we tweaked it,” J.R. said.
The former soldier who also acted on “All My Children” was as sad for his pro Karina as he was for himself. “I know the work she puts into choreographing these routines and really pushing me to make it the best that it is and the fact that I didn’t get to carry it out for her, too, s—, that sucks.”
With his DWTS future looking difficult, J.R. is doing all he can to help his ankle heal—“right now, it’s just a lot of ice, keeping it elevated, trying to stay off it as much as I can and I’m actually getting an x-ray tomorrow. I don’t think it’s anything that serious, quite honestly, but then again, that’s me being optimistic and always trying to find a way to be positive. Hopefully, America will say, you dropped from first to third tonight but we’re going to put him through because we know what they’ve shown us all season long and if they pull us through then I have a week and one thing about J.R. Martinez—when I’m given an opportunity to come back and redeem myself, I definitely come back strong.”
Karina, who has never won DWTS, told Xfinitytv.com that of course she wants the mirror ball trophy this season. “If we don’t get it, I’ll be very very very sad and I might cry.” But, she added that winning would simply be “the cherry on top. We have so many unbelievable priceless memories of the season.”
While J.R. licked his wounds Monday night, Rob stunned DWTS fans with one of the most impressive semifinal statements in the entire history of the show. He earned impressive scores of 28 and 27 for his individual dances, and the highest score of 10 in the cha cha relay with partner Cheryl Burke.
On the post-show red carpet, Rob was thrilled to have earned 10s and been judged second only to Ricki. He marveled, “I’m in front of J.R. in the semifinals. I mean, that speaks for itself. It’s pretty crazy.”
And his hot night even had Rob dreaming that maybe he could take the mirror ball trophy next week if he and partner Cheryl are voted through to the finale. “We’ve come too far not to want [it],” the Kardashian brother smiled.
Rob was so happy he didn’t even mind—well, not too much—that DWTS aired a photo of him dressed as a girl for his “up close and personal” growing up footage. “That was super awkward,” he admitted to Xfinitytv.com. “Millions of people got to see me dressed as a girl [but] those pictures have been out there a while on my sister’s blog. I kind of don’t have control of everything.” Well, he sure does have control of one thing now–his dancing!
The unexpected drama around J.R. and Rob made people almost forget that the standout performer of the night was Ricki, who rebounded from last week with partner Derek Hough. They garnered a perfect score of 30 for their samba, grabbed a 29 for their Argentine tango, and finished second in the cha cha relay with 8 points. “I’m elated it went as well as it did,” Ricki said after the show. She commented on her DWTS personal story, which included the painful recollection of being molested as a child, “I wear everything on my sleeve. I’ve always been an open book. That’s just part of my story.” Backstage, Ricki got cheers from her friend, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Cheryl Hines, who visited her on the red carpet.
Unfortunately, Hope and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy wound up in fourth place at the end of the night after judges weren’t sold on their Monday dances, giving them scores of 21 and 24 on the individuals and just 4 points for the cha cha relay. Hope told reporters backstage that although they received only 24 for their Argentine tango, the difficulty was high and the fierce competitor asserted “there is no other couple that could do what we just did.”
While Hope and Maks are in the greatest danger of elimination, they have gotten along better as a team the more the season goes on. Maks said he introduced Hope to the joys of Russian spas and this week “she had four hours of intense everything.”
We don’t know if the massage helped her shoulder, which Hope was shown on camera getting taken care of by her doctor in rehearsal footage. Backstage, she said about the shoulder situation, “it’s rough, but that’s kind of the way it’s going to be for the rest of my life, so I have to deal with it. I tried to go without shots after the World Cup and I lasted a few months and then the pain hit me and I was like, ‘I need some drugs.’ “
Maks confided DWTS fans have been kept in the dark about Hope’s bad shoulder because “we’re not the ‘milk it’ kind of couple but there has been pain from day one.”
Tuesday night, viewers will see who really faces the pain — of elimination — as one couple will be sent packing and the other three will move on to the big finale!