'DWTS' Backstage: Karina Smirnoff Dishes on the Season 16 Finale and Sizes Up the Competition

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Karina Smirnoff and Jacoby Jones (5/6/13)
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You gotta have faith -- and "Dancing With the Stars" power couple Karina Smirnoff and Jacoby Jones have it! After months of hard work, the dashing duo finally topped the judges' leaderboard during last week's semi-finals round and scored a place in the Season 16 finals after dancing a perfect-scoring Argentine tango and a near-perfect Lindy Hop.

But while the couple's 59 out of 60 points soared them to the top of the scoreboard (they tied with Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and her pro partner Mark Ballas), it didn't come easy: Karina battled a virus all week, and she landed in the hospital after suffering an injury during last week's camera-blocking session.

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In the end, the perky pro dancer came out on top after she and Jacoby brought their A-game to the all-important performances. We caught up with Karina to get the scoop on this season's finale competition, her most memorable dances, and what it feels like to be on top.

Sizing up the competition

Jacoby Jones will compete against Kellie Pickler, Aly Raisman, and Zendaya Coleman for this season's "DWTS" title, which means the Super Bowl champ is literally the last man standing. Even though the girls have ruled the leaderboard this season, Karina tells us her partner is super determined to take home this season's mirror ball trophy. (He's already said he wants to win it for his mother, who's a huge fan of the show.)

"I don't think Jacoby has ever not believed in what we can accomplish," she told us. "One of the greatest things about Jacoby is his determination. We have complete faith in one another and come out doing our absolute best each week. I think it says a lot about Jacoby being that he's the 'last man standing.' He hasn't only gotten better and better each week as a dancer, but his ability to perform with charisma, character, and conviction is impressive and inspiring."

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As for this season's tough "DWTS" competition, the Ukrainian pro dancer thinks all of the couples have something unique to offer: "I think the final four is a group of great teams. Each couple brings something different to the ballroom. In my mind, Jacoby and I just have to continue working hard, staying focused, remaining connected, and keeping our faith in what we have together. Doing this show for as long as I have, I know that our chemistry is our secret weapon. We clicked from day one and keep getting stronger together as a unit. We can't wait for this finale!"

What's Karina's favorite all-time dance?

"Dancing With the Stars" recently celebrated its 300th episode, and the festivities included the return of 22 past pro dancers and troupe members for a dazzling group number. As for Karina's all-time personal favorite dance from her many years on the show (she's competed in a whopping 14 seasons), two dances stand out, and one of them is from this season.

"This show has provided me with so many incredible memories that it's hard to pick just one," she said. "I think my freestyle with J.R. Martinez is probably one of the biggest highlights because we overcame such adversity and delivered triumphantly. Then this week's Argentine tango with Jacoby was such a magical moment. I watched it back and was so impressed with how we fully embraced that moment together completely."

Watch Karina and Jacoby's Argentine tango:

What's the scoop on the finale freestyles?

This season's finale features four couples instead of the usual three, but even the teams aren't sure exactly how the eliminations will work. Karina told us, "Everyone will have to tune in to find out! All I know is we are working our butts off to make the viewers proud. Hopefully everyone will see that Jacoby is an incredibly gifted dancer, performer, and that he has given this competition every ounce of himself. We are so thankful for all of the support -- whether through voting, sweet words of encouragement, or prayer."

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As for the finale week dances, according to ABC.com, the final four couples will compete in three dance rounds during this week's performance show: The Judges' Choice, a Cha Cha relay, and the supersized freestyle dances (where nothing's off limits). As with most seasons of the show, the freestyles are among the most highly anticipated routines of the competition.

While she can't reveal too much about what she and Jacoby have planned, Karina did say, "I can't even tell you how excited I am about our freestyle! It's going to personify Jacoby and bring that magnetic energy we all want to see. We don't want to give away too much, but what I will say is we are going to leave every bit of our energy, passion, determination and FUN on that dance floor! "

You can find information on how to vote for the Season 16 "Dancing With the Stars" finalists at ABC.com.

The two-part "Dancing With the Stars" Season 16 finale kicks off on Monday, 5/20 at 8 PM ET on ABC.

 

More from this contributor:

Karina Smirnoff Talks Trio Dances and Jacoby's Mom Bond

'Dancing With the Stars' Backstage: Karina Smirnoff Is Jazzed After Week 2 Dances

Karina Smirnoff Dishes on Dancing With Maks and Taking a Leap of Faith With Jacoby

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