J.R. Martinez may have faltered slightly during his first dance in last night’s Dancing with the Stars finale, but he harnessed his Latino power to reach perfection in his freestyle routine…
The 28-year-old wounded-Iraq-veteran and All My Children star and his dance partner Karina Smirnoff shook their bon bons to a salsafied version of Kat DeLuna‘s hit song “Whine Up.”
“In the freestyle, Karina and I decided to do a salsa-inspired routine because of the fact that I am Latin,” said Martinez.
The routine featured several flashy tricks from the El Salvadoran-American dancing sensation and his partner, including elaborate twists and turns. Their biggest risk: a dangerous neck straddle!
“Karina wanted to do this lift where I hook my leg to her neck. She’s had surgery on her neck before and I just think it’s too dangerous.”
The “go big or go home” mentality paid off, as Martinez and Smirnoff earned a perfect score of 30.
Unfortunately, the dancing duo’s cha-cha to Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud” earned a shockingly low 24, which Martinez blamed on the ankle injury the suffered last week.
”I was too soon in my steps and I think I panicked because I did roll my ankle in my shoe. I just went and took a step too quick,” said Martinez. “The cha-cha was something I was doing well all week. I had it, but I was off and I found myself one step ahead of her. I knew I was going to be penalized for that.”
Martinez and fellow finalist Ricki Lake are tied for second place going into tonight’s show, three points behind leader Rob Kardashian.