by Free Britney at

Hope Solo is a tough-as-nails competitor. That much is obvious.

Sadly, that alone isn't likely to carry her to the Mirror Ball trophy.

Monday night on Dancing With the Stars, we learned she has shoulder pain from a tear she suffered at some point, and needed a huge shot just to get on the floor.

J.R. Martinez also battled through an injury last night, but Hope's grit failed to impress the judges, who remarked that she's "lost finesse" and needed "artistry."

Later, her fierce Argentine tango was much stronger, but in the cha-cha relay, a last place finish and total of just four points put another dent in Hope's hopes.

Any chance Hope survives tonight's results show? You tell us:

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by Free Britney at

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Hope Solo looked to be falling apart just two weeks ago. Now they could have a good shot at the Dancing With the Stars finals.

Two weeks after Hope‘s “worst dance of the entire season,” which led to Maks' feud with Len and Derek Hough, she made the case that she’s a contender.

Solo's turned in her best performance to date last night and was awarded a season-high 27 points for her quickstep to Amy Winehouse’s hit “Valerie.”

Take a look at the pair's energetic routine below ...

“Tonight is a night of miracles rebooted, reenergized. Light, breezy, radiant. You’ve never moved so well,” Bruno Tonioli said, calling it "Your best dance yet!”

Carrie Ann Inaba was even more to the point. “Hope, come here,” she said. “I just want to give you a hug.” Believe it or not, Len even got in on the love.

“This was fantastic,” Goodman said. “It was everything a jive should be!” He then earned a kiss - yes, a kiss - from Maks after his praise of their jive.

Check out Hope and Maks' second effort here:

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by Free Britney at

The recent Dancing With the Stars feud between Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Derek Hough appears to indicate an increasingly heated rivalry and then some.

"They hate each other," a DWTS insider says.

Chmerkovskiy slammed Len Goodman on last week's show, then criticized Hough after he sided with the judge. Maks also referred to DWTS as "my show."

"I had a laugh about that," Hough said, then referred to a list of past champions at the studio: "I was just looking at the plaque upstairs and ... well, never mind."

  • D. Hough
  • M. Chmerkovskiy

Derek (with Ricki Lake) and Maks (with Hope Solo) are in this fall's final five.

That reply by three-time winner Hough (Chmerkovskiy has yet to hoist the Mirror Ball in 12 seasons; Both are alive right now) is just the latest chapter.

"The professional dance community is really small. The dancers have known one another their entire lives," says a source close to the smash hit show.

"Now that the group is famous, it's added a new level of competitiveness."

There's also the Julianne Hough factor.

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by Free Britney at

Maksim Chmerkovskiy largely kept a very low profile this week.

On the heels of laying into the judges for their critiques on Dancing With the Stars a week ago, he was more or less reserved this week. Except in rehearsals.

Last night, viewers saw a clip from a group rehearsal in which Maks got aggressive with partner Hope Solo, at one point appearing to push her in the shoulder.

He was then shown exiting the room, leaving others uncomfortable. But Hope says she has no problem with Maks' teaching style - in fact, she encourages it.

"Obviously it's working," she said backstage. "We're here for the 7th week. We're getting OK scores. You wouldn't want to see me if he wasn't tough on me."

The judges praised Hope's improvement this week, so there's something to it. Check out their routine below and see the soccer star in action with Maks ...

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by Free Britney at

Maksim Chmerkovskiy sort of backed off his comments Monday about Dancing With the Stars being "his" show, but is still plenty pissed at the judges.

Chmerkovskiy laid into Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli after what he believed were scathing, personal critiques of his routine with Hope Solo.

Lacey Schwimmer and Chaz Bono, who were eliminated Tuesday night, felt similarly and supported Maksim, but Ricki Lake's partner Derek Hough took the judges' side.

That drew a stinging rebuke from Chmerkovskiy ...

  • Maks on DWTS
  • Handsome Derek Hough

"Derek Hough has been very supportive of his personal career on the show," Maksim said in an interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America.

"With all due respect, if I had Nicole Scherzinger followed by Jennifer Grey followed by Ricki Lake, I probably would not be upset with the judges either."

Maksim wishes he hadn't said in the heat of the moment that DWTS is "his" show and he is the reason for its success, acknowledging it's a team effort.

But he won't praise the judges, either.

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by Free Britney at

Dancing With the Stars' Maksim Chmerkovskiy leaves it all out on the floor every week, and does not mince words when it comes to his partners - or the judges.

Last night, the brewing tension between Maks and Len Goodman reached critical mass after Hope Solo received some of the lowest scores of the sixth week.

Goodman insisted that Chmerkovskiy and his partner had their "worst dance of the season” and he knows because he has “been in this business for 50 years.”

Maks snapped back, saying “Then maybe it's time to go!”

Ouch. Watch the routine and exchange in question here ...

Afterward, he wasn't about to back down either. “With all due respect, this is my show,” Chmerkovskiy told host Brooke Burke Charvet. “I help make it what it is.”

What do you think? Was Maks out of line here? Or is he just doing his part as a dancer, defending his partner? And does Len have a grudge against Chmerkovskiy?

Whose side are you on?

 

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by Free Britney at

Dancing With the Stars pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy has identified his dream partner for the upcoming season of the hit ABC competition series:

U.S. soccer goalie Hope Solo!

After giving Hope's name immediately when asked who he'd love to partner with this fall, the Ukrainian hunk added, "Let's do it! I want somebody hot, I want somebody exciting, somebody passionate, and I'll do the rest."

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Maksim took Kirstie Alley to the finals last season. He believes he could repeat that success with Hope Solo ... provided her athletic footwork translates to dancing.

Solo led the Americans into the World Cup final against Japan, where they fell just short of the championship, losing on penalty shots.

Despite the heartbreak, Maks would offer Solo a chance for redemption, should ABC decide to give her a Dancing With the Stars whirl.

"I'm waiting," he says. "And please don't hurt your legs."

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by Free Britney at

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy are probably not dating, but they aren't doing anything to quell the growing speculation, either.

The DWTS partners were awfully cozy at her "All The Right Moves" event in NYC last night, following rumors that they may be an item.

Maksim was the Ukrainian Bachelor, but does not appear engaged now. He also called Alley "the best thing to happen to me in years!"

Chmerkovskiy and Alley

The outing also comes amid news that Kirstie dumped her 21-year-old (!) boy toy because she discovered he still lived at home with his mother.

Yes, Kirstie Alley has dumped rapper Shanice Boyd. Whether that clears the way for a romantic connection with Maks, 31, remains to be seen.

One thing's for sure. Since appearing as a finalist on Dancing With Stars, Kirstie Alley has a slimmer figure and a whole lot more confidence.

Kirstie showed off her shrinking frame as she dipped, twirled and grinded with burly Maks on the red carpet and on the floor last night. You go girl!

[Photo: Fame Pictures]

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by Free Britney at

Maksim Chmerkovskiy is best known in the U.S. as one of the resident pros and hunks on Dancing With the Stars. But he also just finished a starring turn on the Ukranian version of The Bachelor in his native country!

We think he may have gotten engaged last night. Hard to say.

No one at THG speaks Ukranian, unfortunately, and this clip we found online isn't subtitled, so you tell us. There's ... a ring and a lot of kissing!

The episode was filmed months ago, so there's no word on if they're still together ... but he was sorta grinding on Cheryl Burke last weekend.

Maksim, who made the DWTS finals with Kirstie Alley in the show's 12th season, was previously engaged to another co-star, Karina Smirnoff.

We hope it worked out for the best, however it worked out - and we promise when Ashley Hebert gives out her final rose, we'll understand her.

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by Free Britney at

"We have the very young Chelsea. We have a very athletic Hines ... Kirstie is the exact opposite." - Maksim Chmerkovskiy on his Dancing With the Stars partner.

Maks has never been one to mince words, but rest assured, he didn't utter the above quote as a slight to Kirstie Alley, but to credit her for beating the odds.

At 60 and not exactly rail thin, she was the clear underdog heading into the Dancing With the Stars finals. But Maks said she belongs there and proved it.

Carrie Ann Inaba felt she "oozed" in her samba, and meant that as a compliment. It was rather sultry, earning her a 27 despite some technical hangups.

Later, in her freestyle, she defied the odds and did anything but play it safe with a daring, split-legged lift. Then the energy increased - with a cartwheel.

Will it be enough to vault her over Chelsea Kane and Hines Ward to claim the Mirror Ball tonight? She scored a 54 to their 59s. But you never know.

Watch her freestyle performance after the jump ...

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