November 15, 2011 7:02pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'Dancing With the Stars' Eliminates Hope and Maks Just Shy of the Season 13 Finale
The first cut may be the deepest, but the last one before the finale has got to be the most painful.
Dancing With the Stars dumped one last couple before the Nov 22 conclusion of Season 13, dashing their hopes like so many shards of a broken mirrorball.
PHOTOS: 'Dancing With the Stars' Season 13: Rehearsals
As Monday's scores seemed to dictate, both Rob Kardashian and Ricki Lake got the green light to compete for the title. That left J.R. Martinez and Hope Solo to sweat it out until the end of the hour and eventually descend the awkward, glowing staircase of judgement.
J.R., a front-runner since coming out of the gate (unhindered by a notable lack of star power), suffered a huge setback just shy of the finale everyone expected to see him in. An ankle injury fueled three lackluster performances, making him a target for elimination the first time.
And then there's Hope. Along with partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, she's butted heads with the judges throughout the season, finding herself in the bottom two on several occasions. They went into the night the most likely to get cut, statistically, but stranger things have happened.
PHOTOS: 'Dancing With the Stars' Season 13 Cast Official Photos
Apparently, America sided with the scores. Hope and Maks were shown the door, denying the seasoned pro a shot at the mirrorball for the umpteenth time. Hope seemed fine with the results, saying she's aiming for an Olympic gold medal next.
That means Ricki Lake, J.R. Martinez and Rob Kardashian will duke it out over two nights for the Season 13 title. Who's odds do you like best?