Heroic Las Vegas amputee Amy Purdy has doggedly and miraculously made it to tonight’s final trio of “Dancing With the Stars” contestants on ABC, and incredibly just one point separates her from the top of the leaderboard. It’s an epic, near superhuman, achievement for the former Cimarron-Memorial High School graduate who had just started work as a massage therapist at Canyon Ranch Spa at the Venetian. On her 19th birthday, she lost her legs below her knees from bacterial meningitis and was saved from near death by her father’s gift of one of his kidneys. Now 34, the brunette beauty became co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports determined to follow her passion for snowboarding. She was selected for the U.S. Paralympic Team, winning gold and bronze medals, and competed in Season 21 of “The Amazing Race” on CBS.
Ten weeks ago, she began the daring and courageous chase against all odds for the mirrored disco ball trophy. Tonight, America will watch with bated breath to see if her valiant effort pays off during three hours of extraordinary television on ABC. On Monday night, Amy shed plenty of tears in disbelief that she’d made it onto the final broadcast despite continuing back spasms from an injured rib and shoulder suffered three weeks ago that hospitalized her. She cried as producers replayed scenes of her near-death hospital drama.
She wept as pals Big Time Rush singer James Maslow and pro dancer Peta Murgatroyd were eliminated in a shocking surprise. She teared up as “Full House” actress Candace Cameron Bure with injured pro partner Mark Ballas were saved for tonight despite their low scores and his shoulder in a sling.
It’s likely that this evening’s live broadcast from L.A. studios will be even more emotional. My preview posted early Monday includes all the segments to be expected during the two-hour finale.
Here are Monday night’s scoring for Amy and her five-time champion pro-dance partner Derek Hough: They received three perfect-10 scores from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman for her salsa, and they received 29 points for the freestyle. Len was badly booed for the 9 he handed out.
Said Amy on Monday night as she ran directly from the live broadcast back to the dance studio to learn a new dance for tonight’s show: “This journey has been more than I could ever describe or have ever anticipated. I am so excited to be moving onto the finale.”
“This has been such an incredible experience, but at the same time so sad to be at the end of this incredible journey. I keep thinking, though, this journey isn’t ending; it’s just beginning. Derek will forever hold a chunk of my heart. He has been my wall, my mentor, my coach and my friend. It’s not over yet.”
Thus going into the 9 p.m. PT two-hour show (after a one-hour 8 p.m. taped history of the dancers’ journeys), its Olympic champion ice dancing pairs figure skater Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy at 60, Amy and Derek at 59 and Candace and Mark at 51. They will perform one last time to add to their totals before the trophy is awarded. Amy also has to dance the Team Loca dance that she missed when she was hospitalized three weeks ago.
Prediction: It will come down to Amy and Meryl. If judged solely and strictly on dancing skills, the win will be awarded to Meryl. If Amy’s fearless and gallant efforts become the deciding factor, then she will be nobly rewarded.
“DWTS” has never announced a tie. The show has never had two trophies. To avoid America staging a revolt if Amy’s intrepid bravery isn’t recognized in some manner, perhaps a second trophy for audacity and guts should be awarded. This might just be the time.
By Robin Leach