- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Ricki Lake fell one dance short of the mirrorball trophy on “Dancing With the Stars.”

The 43-year-old TV personality was eliminated from the competition Tuesday during the show’s season finale.

“I’ve loved basically every minute of this,” she said after her dismissal. “This is a fantasy come true.”

Reality star Rob Kardashian and actor and Iraq war veteran J.R. Martinez were still vying for the championship. Each would perform one final routine.

The three finalists each reprised their favorite dance of the season Tuesday to add to their judges’ points. Judges’ scores are combined with viewer votes to determine who is eliminated each week.

There would be a new “Dancing” champ at the end of Tuesday’s episode, but there was no clear favorite.

Kardashian and Martinez each had a samba routine to perform before the winner was named.

Kardashian, 24, came into the final episode in first place. He has shown steady development throughout the season, and he and professional partner Cheryl Burke dazzled on the penultimate dance-off with an elegant waltz and a rip-roaring, swing-inspired freestyle routine that judges rewarded with a perfect score.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better ending of the season,” Kardashian said Monday. “We got our first perfect score. We’re in first place. We did it with the most crucial dance, which is the freestyle. It’s just surreal and I still can’t even believe it.”

Lake and Martinez, who have each topped the judges’ leaderboard throughout the 10-week competition, were tied for second place.

Martinez and partner Karina Smirnoff earned a perfect score for their freestyle routine and have their eyes firmly focused on the prize.

“I think we have a great shot at it,” said Martinez, 28. “It would be an amazing thing. It’d be her first mirrorball trophy, which she deserves, and it would be my first, of course. We both want to win it for each other.”

Smirnoff, who has been on the hit ABC show for 10 seasons, said taking the title would be like “a perfect ending to a perfect story.”

“With everything we went through … it’s like this mirrorball would justify everything,” she said. “No matter what happens, I feel like it has been such a fulfilling experience overall. But the mirrorball trophy would make it that much better. It’s the truth.”

Viewer votes count for half of each contestant’s overall score, but the last chance to cast votes was Monday.

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