Originally uploaded by swan lake samba girl via mobile.
[Edit: Hahaha, how ridiculous is this. I had to send this four times before it finally went through Flickr. Why?! Anyway this post pertains to Friday night, and should have come about six posts ago, but here it is. The finalists are lined up here after competition and waiting for their placements to be called. Andrei & Elena, then current, now former, national champs are on the end closest to the camera. Places number six through three were called, leaving Max & Yulia (in the middle) and Andrei & Elena, as usual, the last two up there (they call sixth position first, working up to number one). When the announcer prefaced the second runners up with “ladies and gentlemen, placing second in all five dances, from New Jersey…” everyone gasped. Max & Yulia usually place first in at least samba, if not samba and jive, and Andrei & Elena place first in the other three (cha cha, rumba, paso doble), making them the overall winners by a slight margin. So when the announcer said the second runners up had placed second in all five dances, everyone immediately thought Max & Yulia were really screwed royally by the judges and didn’t even get number ones in any dance). Max & Yulia thought the same thing apparently. Max looked stunned and Yulia looked like she was going to cry. “No, that can’t be, that can’t be,” the couple next to me moaned. I knew though – I swear, at that point I knew Max & Yulia had won. They don’t ever place second in samba! That is their dance! Then the announcer, after putting the entire audience, not to mention the poor dancers, through absolute hell with a horrendously long drawn-out pause, finally continued, saying, “ladies and gentlemen, second runners up … from New Jersey … … couple … number … … 166 (which was Andrei and Elena’s number). The audience was silent; what the announcer had said had to register. Then, slowly, the crowd came to and began going nuts, as Max and Yulia are the favorite of most spectators. I don’t think it even hit Yulia that she had won until Andrei & Elena (looking horribly crushed – -I felt so badly for them) walked up to the podium, received their medals and took their place on the second-tier winners’ stand, and the announcer then called out, “ladies and gentlemen, the new national champions…” Then she covered her mouth and started to cry. She could hardly dance her “honor jive” she was so emotional. They’ve worked so hard for this for a long time and have wanted it so very badly. Everyone was screaming. It was so fantastic, and that moment alone made my whole trip worth it 🙂 ]