“Dancing with the Stars” fans were forced to say goodbye to yet another couple Tuesday night when Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough were eliminated from the Season 20 competition. Although the Week 9 elimination left fans confused as to why the high-scoring Olympic gold medalist and her fan-favorite partner were axed, Derek confessed he wasn’t surprised that they were the ninth couple to be sent home from the hit ABC series.
"I feel like that when we finished the dance, it felt a little bit like a final dance, a final moment and a beautiful moment," Derek told People magazine after Tuesday night's show, explaining that their futuristic “Semifinals” routine to Jordin Sparks’ “I Am Woman” was the best way to end their Season 20 stint. "So I think, for us, I'm not terribly surprised, but I'm very pleased. I can't believe what [Nastia's] accomplished."
Not only did the partners struggle with their hectic schedules -- Derek was simultaneously starring in “Spring Spectacular” on Broadway and Nastia had a heavy class schedule at New York University -- but the jet-setting duo also was challenged when Derek injured his ankle. Sans her blond buddy, the Olympic gymnast continued on with the competition, performing alongside “DWTS” trouper Sasha Farber for two weeks.
The determined Hough did manage to pull it together to dance with Nastia for their final night on the show.
“Being able to dance with Derek one last time really meant a lot to me. It was such a special moment,” she told People, adding that her experience on the show has been an “incredible journey” for her. “Being able to learn so much about myself, and Derek has kind of been a huge help -- really making me believe that it's okay to just be myself and not try to be perfect all the time."
When Derek and Nastia appeared on “Live! with Kelly & Michael” the following day, the foxtrotting twosome dished that their last routine was “like a perfect sendoff.”
“The semifinals show was unbelievable, so emotional. So jam-packed filled with amazing moments,” Derek added.
Were you surprised that Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough were sent home during Season 20’s “Semifinals”? Sound off in the comments section below and don’t forget to tune in to “Dancing with the Stars” on Monday and Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC.