The couple wowed in their perfect-scoring “supersize freestyle,” a medley tribute to all their routines this season. But it was their special guests — the U.S. Olympic gymnastic team’s Fierce 5 — who made their performance especially unforgettable.
“It meant everything to me to have them here,” Shawn told us backstage about Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber joining her in the ballroom.
“I trained three years with them to be on the biggest stage in the world with them,” she said. “After they already went [to the London Olympics] and were successful and became the Fierce Five, they took time to come out and support me. Seeing as how I didn’t get the comeback I wanted, this is bigger than I could ever have imagined.”
But she’s especially grateful to her partner. “Derek gave me everything back — my confidence, my pride and passion for finding something I loved to do.”
“Coming into the show, I was knocked down because I lost everything that I knew. I’ve invested my whole life and career in gymnastics,” Shawn continued. “Each week [Derek] taught me more and more to let myself go, and it’s OK not to be perfect but to have fun.”
“I think a lot of people have noticed a change,” Derek told us about his partner. “She puts on such a strong [facade], but what you don’t see is this incredibly special, tender, soft moment … That for me was amazing to be able to be a part of — because obviously these girls have history and it’s amazing.”
We know it takes a lot to impress McKayla Maroney — what about tonight’s performance?
“I was impressed!” the Olympic vault silver medalist told us. “It was really good to go out there and just get a perfect 10.
“For a gymnast, a perfect 10 is — I’ve never even gotten one!” McKayla pointed out. “So to get one with my dancing is really special.”