Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy wowed “Dancing With the Stars” fans and judges for 11 consecutive weeks with their fancy footwork. On Tuesday, they were officially crowned the winners of Season 23.
In his final vlog for People magazine, Val said that Season 23 coming to a close was “a bittersweet kind of feeling.” He told the publication that he was “grateful” to have been partnered with Laurie on the ABC series, and that winning after her grandmother’s tragic death ahead of Week 10 was among their greatest feats during the competition.
“Last week was a very difficult week for us...Laurie definitely had a rough week, and it was awesome to see her prevail,” Val said. “At such a young age to have the maturity and poise to get through everything she’s gone through this season is really awesome and I’m genuinely proud of her. I’m proud of the young woman that she turned out to be. The grace that she’s shown all season has been awesome. You forget that she’s only 16 years old.”
The pair were announced as the winners at the end of Tuesday’s show, after performing two dances. The first afforded them and their remaining competitors an opportunity to revisit a favorite dance from Season 23 of “DWTS” before performing one last original routine. Laurie and Val’s pick — their Week 10 trio dance with Maksim Chmerkovskiy — which also happened to be a hit among fans and judges. They performed it with the same precision and grace that they did the first time around, but were not scored in the finale.
For their second dance of the night Laurie and Val, dubbed Team Valaur, performed a Foxtrot/Argentine Tango combination. Before their performance, the duo shared one last sweet moment in their rehearsal space. Laurie was moved to tears after seeing her and Val’s photos on the walls, telling him how sad she was to no longer be spending day after day learning new moves with him. Their Season 23 finale dance was filled with flips and tricks that elicited quite the response from the “DWTS” judges. Bruno Tonioli immediately jumped from his seat to rave about Laurie and Val. They received a perfect score — as did their competitors.
While everyone brought their A-game to the “DWTS” finale, only one team could win it all. Hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews announced that Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold were the first of the Season 23 final three out of the running. With just James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess up against Laurie and Val — and just one point separating them in the judges scores — it was anyone’s guess who would take it. Ultimately Laurie and Val were announced the winners, which they were elated to learn.
Their road to bringing home the Mirror Ball trophy was a long one, but it sure was fun for fans to watch. During their time on “DWTS,” Laurie and Val performed a number of impressive routines. They received more than five perfect scores — an astounding feat for a novice dancer. The olympic gymnast took to the ballroom just as she would the balance beam, rising to the occasion and taking down the competition with ease.
Here are a few of our favorite routines from Team Valaur in Season 23 of “DWTS”:
Laurie And Val’s Finale 24-Hour Fusion Foxtrot/Argentine Tango:
Team Valaur’s Week 11 Freestyle:
Their Week 11 Redemption Paso Doble:
Laurie, Val And Maks’ Week 10 Trio Dance:
The Dance Team Valaur Dedicated To Laurie’s Grandmother After Her Passing:
Laurie And Val’s Week 9 “Chicago” Inspired Argentine Tango:
Their Halloween-Themed “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory” Routine:
“DWTS” returns to ABC for Season 24 in March 2017.