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'Dancing' stars applaud couple after fall

April 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A night filled with emotional performances helped football great Hines Ward score a victory during the third round of "Dancing With The Stars."

Ward and Kym Johnson performed a sassy samba.

But supermodel Petra Nemcova showed the most improvement of the competition with her waltz, and the two couples are tied at the top of the judges score board.

While Hines and Nemcova had golden moments on the dance floor, the most talked about part of the evening involved Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

Kirstie Alley's emotional rumba began gracefully, and then every dancer's worst nightmare happened - the dancers took a tumble.

"My muscle just gave out and, you know, it's unfortunate, but it happens," said Chmerkovskiy. "It just never happened to me on a performance night."

But these two seasoned performers knew that the show must go on, so they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and kept on dancing.

"I was a deer in headlights because when it happened, it was so unreal," Alley said. When Chmerkovskiy told her, "Let's just keep dancing," she did just that.

And the rapid recovery earned nothing but praise from a fellow competitor.

"If you walked in to that and saw that number halfway through, you would have no idea that there was any hiccup in the early part of it, let alone one that was as big it was," said Ralph Macchio. "It was really spectacular how they finished that out."

"It was a test that nobody really wants to go through, but once it happens, it's the biggest test you can possibly imagine," Chmerkovskiy said. "The way she recovered was just amazing."

It's only week three of "Dancing With The Stars," but the celebrities are already trying to pace themselves for the long haul of the competition.

Chris Jericho has spent years as a professional wrestler with the WWE, and he knew what he was getting into when he signed up for the show.

But he and his fellow athletes also know their bodies - and their limits.

"We rehearse for as long as it takes to get the most we can out of that day ... but when it's time to break, you do, and that's why your body will never turn on you, as long as you respect it," Jericho said.

Boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard says it's the mental preparation that can be really tough.

"I think it's just the muscles that I use, and turning my tush here. It's the thinking of the routine that really burns a lot of energy," he said.

Kirstie Alley said the show has helped her stamina get better.

"I couldn't do anything when I first started except run on the treadmill ... I was so out of breath, I would fall down, have a heart attack," she said.

The elimination round of "Dancing With The Stars" begins at 9 p.m. on ABC7.

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