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HOME > Dancing with the Stars > Dancing with the Stars 8

Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Melissa Rycroft's 'Dancing' participation 'unfair'

By John Bracchitta and Steve Rogers, 03/17/2009 

Maksim Chmerkovskiy used to think that a woman wouldn't be able to win Dancing with the Stars again. Now he thinks one has too much of an advantage in the eighth season of the ABC reality dance competition.

Although she had only two days to prepare for the competition after joining the show as a last-minute replacement for injured Access Hollywood co-anchor Nancy O'Dell, Chmerkovskiy believes the jilted former The Bachelor bachelorette Melissa Rycroft has too much dancing experience to compete on the series.

"It's very hard for me because [her dance partner Tony Dovolani] is my best friend, but if we're gonna call it what it is, it's very unfair because Melissa's a dancer -- she was a cheerleader and did ballet," the outspoken professional dancer told

However neither Rycroft or Dovolani -- who received a judges' score of 26, the night's second highest, on last night's second Dancing with the Stars performance show -- agree with Chmerkovskiy's comments about her dancing experience, which includes childhood ballet lessons and prior experience as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader (some of which was chronicled on CMT's Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team reality series).

"I'm not the first one that's ever had a dance background on here before," Rycroft told O'Dell after her first first dance with Dovolani on last week's Dancing with the Stars premiere. "I've danced before, but it's totally [different]."

"When I'm explaining it to people, I say, 'You can take the best baseball pitcher in the world and it doesn't mean he can throw a football accurately,'" she added. "That's how I feel... So while I've danced, I've never danced like this. I'm learning along with everybody else."

Dovolani also came to Rycroft's defense, adding that several former Dancing with the Stars contestants have had prior dance training.

"Every season we've had that," Dovolani told O'Dell. "[Shawn Johnson's] gymnastics background, we've had [Joey Fatone], we had [Lance Bass] last season. We had Mel B. They all had a dance background, and so does Melissa, but she has a ballet background -- ballroom is a whole new animal."

Ironically, former Spice Girl member Melanie "Mel B." Brown was paired with Chmerkovskiy during Dancing with the Stars' fifth season.  Although they had finished in first place in the judges' final performance show scoring, they weren't so lucky in the subsequent home viewer voting, resulting in Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough winning the show's fifth-season title.

Chmerkovskiy's claims that no other woman would ever manage to accomplish first-season Dancing with the Stars winner Kelly Monaco's feat began the following season, which he skipped citing burnout following two consecutive Dancing with the Stars finale losses.

"Girls don't vote for other girls," Chmerkovskiy said during the show's sixth season, which was eventually won by Kristi Yamaguchi.  "Let's face it... Out of 25.2 million viewers, I think .2 is the men."

Chmerkovskiy had later reiterated his claim that Yamaguchi didn't have a shot at winning as the competition neared its final rounds.

"Obviously the best dancer on the show is Kristi Yamaguchi," Chmerkovskiy said in late April 2008.  "But a woman is not going to win the show.  I'm still saying it.  Women vote for sexy chests and pretty smiles."

In addition to his comments about Rycroft, Chmerkovskiy also risked spending a night sleeping on the couch by taking a shot at Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak, who is paired with Karina Smirnoff, Chmerkovskiy's fiancee.

"Steve's an amazing guy and incredibly friendly. He's very entertaining, he's trying his best and I've never seen anyone work harder than Steve," he told "Having said that, he probably won't be in the semifinal or final [rounds]. I think Karina deserves to be partnered with someone she has a chance with."

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