Zendaya’s elbow went flying, and Val Chmerkovskiy’s night was suddenly in jeopardy.
But Chmerkovskiy, 27, being the pro that he is, soldiered on after the accident in dress rehearsal for Monday’s Dancing with the Stars left him with a deep gash over his right eye that almost sent him straight to the hospital before the first night of the season 16 finale.
“That’s what I was worried about,” he told PEOPLE after the show. “It’s going to keep pouring, pouring, pouring, and I’m going to need stitches. If I was going to have to go get stitches, then I wouldn’t have time to make it back. So thank God the blood subsided.”
Chmerkovskiy did hurry off after the interview to seek medical care – brother Maks took him for 14 stitches! – but not before he and Zendaya earned perfect scores on all of their dances.
“I don’t think it’s very masculine to whine about your injuries,” Chmerkovskiy said. “You’ve got to suck it up and keep it moving and keep the attention on what’s important.”
Zendaya admitted she was scared after the accident, but her partner helped her focus. “I trust him to tell me what’s really going on,” she said. “And he said, ‘I’m good. Just do you, and do it right, and don’t hold back.’ So that’s what I did, and it worked.”
Zendaya and Chmerkovskiy battled against three other couples – Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas, Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough, and Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff – in Monday’s final performances. The winner will be crowned during the season finale, airing Tuesday (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.
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