The youngest hoofer in Dancing history, Olympic gold medalist gymnast Shawn Johnson, 17, showed glimmers of her potential early on. She tied with perennial front-runner Gilles Marini and crowd favorite Lil' Kim for first place after performing an elegant foxtrot that had judge Bruno Tonioli gushing that the performance was like "watching a bejeweled hummingbird."
While Marini, Kim and Melissa Rycroft jockeyed for first place from the start, Johnson began hitting her ballroom stride in week 7 with the cha cha cha, a dance she and partner Mark Ballas again performed on Tuesday's Dancing finale. She received her first 10 of the season – and high praise from judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who said the Olympian "came alive" in the routine.
Marini isn't the only tango master. Johnson and Ballas reached perfection with a fierce Argentine tango that prompted head judge Len Goodman to remark, "It was honestly, without a doubt, for me your best performance."
Peaking at just the right moment, Johnson stole both Marini and Rycroft's thunder when she and Ballas performed a flawless freestyle dance that earned them their second 30 of the season. Tonioli raved the act was simply "explosive" – and packed enough fireworks for a Dancing upset.
Johnson's other winning routine? The mirror-ball trophy dance, which she and Ballas did while confetti rained down on the incredulous pair. So what does Johnson plan on doing with her shiny new trophy? "I'm going to put my gold medal around it because it was the Olympics that got me here in the first place," she told PEOPLE just moments after her victory.