Ice Network

Davis aiming to win mirror ball trophy on 'DWTS'

Olympic gold medalist to also dance with White for first time this season
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Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy will try to take home the mirror ball trophy during the two-night season finale on 'Dancing with the Stars' on Monday and Tuesday. -ABC

For the first time in 17 years, Meryl Davis is going for gold without Charlie White by her side. While the two ice dancers considered participating in Dancing with the Stars a joint effort, White and partner Sharna Burgess were eliminated last week. So it's up to Davis and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy to bring home the gold -- in this case, the mirror ball trophy -- at the conclusion of the two-night finale that begins Monday.

"I know that she's worked her butt off," said White, who will dance with Burgess and other eliminated couples on Tuesday. "I know from my own circumstances just how difficult it's been to do every little thing. I'm pumped to watch her compete in the finale. I know she's going to do an amazing job."

Throughout the season, Davis has met the huge expectations placed upon her while simultaneously touring with Stars on Ice. SOI castmate Ryan Bradley said he's seen Davis and White practicing individually backstage.

"It's unbelievable," Bradley said. "They are being adamant about never complaining, never asking for special treatment, never asking for less. It's been pretty amazing -- not only how they've been pushing but the way they've been handling it."

On Monday night, the four remaining couples will perform a judges' pick dance. It will be the same dance style that each performed during switch-up week. For Davis, that's the Argentine Tango, which she danced with Chmerkovskiy's younger brother, Valentin, to rave reviews.

"That was a beautiful routine; how could it get any better?" noted Kristyn Burtt, host of AfterBuzz TV's DWTS recap show. "Let's see how Meryl improves upon it, or how different the interpretation is, because Maks is a very different dancer than Val."

The couples will then each perform a freestyle routine, which can include special effects and additional dancers if they so choose. It has been said the freestyle makes or breaks a couple's chances to win. For veteran DWTS pro Tony Dovolani, who won all-star season with Melissa Rycroft, it's about knowing the celebrity's strengths and weaknesses and showcasing them to the best advantage.

"You don't want your celebrity to go out there thinking. You want them to go out there performing," Dovolani said.

Burtt said her expectations for Davis and Chmerkovskiy's freestyle are high.

"He could give her something a little bit more edgy," Burtt said. "I love it when we see her with a little bit more fierceness to her because she really delivers."

At the end of Monday's show, one couple will be eliminated. The remaining three couples will then have 24 hours to create a fusion dance that will combine two different styles.

Tuesday night's finale will begin with an opening performance by all 12 couples from Season 18. There will be featured performances throughout the show, and before the three couples perform their fusion dances, Davis and White will dance together for the first time this season.

The winner will be crowned at night's end. Along with the judges' scores, viewer votes account for 50 percent of the results, so there's no way to know who's in the lead until all is said and done. One thing that people seem to unanimously agree on is how strong Davis and Chmerkovskiy's performances have been every week.

"They have this great chemistry," said Julian Tocker, former DWTS troupe member and AfterBuzz co-host. "They have such a great relationship together that comes across on camera."

Dovolani concurred and said an impending finale brings intense emotions.

"Heading into the finals, the pressure is immense. But at the same time, it's the realization that the season is coming to an end, so there's a double whammy," he noted. "You have the pressure of making sure you bring out your best stuff for the finale and at the same time realizing that the journey ends. So you've got a lot of mixed emotions going on."

He said not only that Davis and Chmerkovskiy have danced well each week, but they've presented different characters with each dance -- pushing the envelope choreographically. Dovolani is impressed with Davis' ability to thrive under pressure.

Dovolani's win with Rycroft was his first mirror ball trophy after 14 seasons on DWTS. This is Chmerkovskiy's 14th season, and he is looking for his first win. His friends are hoping Tuesday night provides the satisfying conclusion to a special season.

"It's hard to put it into words what this means actually," said Dovolani, whose heart still races thinking about the moment he and Rycroft were announced the winners. "It would be pretty amazing. It doesn't come without Maks deserving it. It's not a gift; it's something that he earned.

"It's going to be an incredible night if that happens."

"I feel this is the only show that allows the audience to truly decide who should win," Dovolani said. "They have entertained us from week one -- through injuries and everything else. They used nothing as an excuse. They really gave us their best every single moment."