He's got a bad knee, but Chelsea Kane and Hines Ward come in strong

By Monica Rizzo and Mike Fleeman
Updated May 09, 2011 10:25 PM
Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC

Once a frontrunner on Dancing with the Stars, Ralph Macchio hobbled into the ballroom Monday night hampered by a bum knee and surrounded by questions about whether he would try a single step.

By night’s end, audience members had their answers. How did the Karate Kid fare in the grueling Week 8 round that called for two dances – one rehearsed and the other done virtually on the spot? Read on.

Macchio, 49, did manage to dance, but the injury – a ruptured cyst behind his knee – and the days of missed practices took their toll.

He plowed through the Viennese Waltz with partner Karina Smirnoff, but the judges noted his limitations. In the instant dance round, they did a cha cha without ever having rehearsed before Monday night – the rules gave everyone an impromptu 20 minutes of practice time – and it showed.

“With the circumstances you did very well to cope with it, let alone doing it,” said judge Bruno Tonioli.

Carrie Ann Inaba agreed, saying, “I really admire you for getting out there.”

As they walked off the floor, the audience and the judges gave Macchio a standing ovation. But in the end, they only got 21 points for a total of 46, for a distant last place, putting him at risk of elimination Tuesday.

The night’s leaders – and still the team to beat – were Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas. Their nearly perfect “timeless waltz,” as Tonioli called it, charmed the judges, and their instant salsa, while getting mixed reviews, was strong enough to propel them to 55 combined points.

Close behind with 54 total points were Hines Ward and Kym Johnson with a foxtrot that thrilled the crowd and an instant jive that proved Ward’s cool under pressure.

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy started strong with a hot and steamy Argentine tango that brought the house down, but faltered later with their slow-paced instant salsa. They finished with 53 points.

Romeo and Chelsie Hightower’s high-intensity tango was followed by an instant salsa that suffered from missteps, giving them 52 for the night, well ahead of Macchio – but not good enough to guarantee them another week.