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Hamill, Yamaguchi share spotlight on 'DWTS'

Skaters perform 'fusion' dance to finish the season

Dorothy Hamill and Henry Byalikov (left) performed on the season finale of <i>Dancing with the Stars</i> with Kristi Yamaguchi and Sasha Farber. Host Tom Bergeron stands between the couples.
Dorothy Hamill and Henry Byalikov (left) performed on the season finale of Dancing with the Stars with Kristi Yamaguchi and Sasha Farber. Host Tom Bergeron stands between the couples. (courtesy of ABC)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(05/23/2013) - "To be able to have Kristi there was such a blessing for Dorothy," said Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) troop member Henry Byalikov, who partnered Olympic champion Dorothy Hamill in the season finale. "To come full circle. To have a moment to share."

When Hamill signed on to take part in season 16 of DWTS, she spoke about how watching Kristi Yamaguchi's participation in the show in 2008 had served as an inspiration for her when she was recovering from breast cancer surgery. Unfortunately, a back problem forced Hamill and partner Tristan MacManus to withdraw from the competition in week two, but after rest and treatment, she was able to perform on Tuesday night's finale.

In a surprise twist, Yamaguchi and troop member Sasha Farber joined Hamill and Byalikov, subbing for an injured MacManus (broken toe), for the second part of the dance.

"It was a lot of fun -- not just to be back but obviously to dance with Dorothy," said Yamaguchi, the DWTS season six champion. "It was a special moment to share with her."

Byalikov, who collaborated with MacManus on the choreography, was blown away by Hamill's dance abilities. The idea of the dance was to create a piece that included elements of dances Hamill would have performed had she remained in the competition.

"We had a fusion of tango, foxtrot, waltz, rumba, samba and Argentine tango," Byalikov said. "She took it in stride. ... It's not easy to have that type of versatility, but she showed everyone that she does.

"Getting to work with her in this really short period of time, I recognized a lot of talent and potential that she has," he added. "I told her I thought she could have gone all the way."

Yamaguchi began rehearsing with Farber a week ago, and Hamill and Byalikov joined them last Friday. Although her appearance on Tuesday's finale was top secret, Yamaguchi, as a past DWTS champion, was invited to attend Monday night's show, in which the final four couples -- country singer Kellie Picker and Derek Hough, Disney star Zendaya and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Super Bowl champion Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff, and Olympic champion gymnast Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas (Yamaguchi's season six partner) -- competed in three dances.

"They were all so special," Yamaguchi said. "Kellie and Derek's freestyle was probably one of the most amazing dances I've seen on the show ever. It was so beautiful. Zendaya and Val, oh my gosh. I watch her and I'm just blown away by her poise and the nuances that she grasps and puts into the dance."

At the conclusion of Tuesday's show, Pickler and Hough were crowned the season 16 champions.

Her performance on DWTS rekindled Yamaguchi's dancing fire. Since winning the mirror ball trophy five years ago, she's staged a dance-themed annual gala fundraiser for her Always Dream Foundation (alwaysdream.org).

The last two years, Always Dream has placed its focus on childhood literacy programs. Last Saturday, it held its first children's literacy festival, in San Jose, Calif.

"It was wonderful," said Yamaguchi, the mother of two daughters. "We had some celebrity and guest authors come in and read. We brought in activities for the kids to do that were education and literacy related. Then we also had entertainment groups come in to perform throughout the day.

"The programs are going full swing," she added. "We're planning to launch [reading programs] at seven more schools this coming September."