After a night of fierce competition in the ballroom where Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough took home the coveted mirror-ball trophy, the "Dancing With the Stars" winners and finalists appeared on "Good Morning America" today and dished on the exhilarating experience.
"It was a rollercoaster this entire season. There were some times that we didn't think that we would carry on," said Hough, who was "Dirty Dancing" star Jennifer Grey's professional dance partner.
Grey, 50, became the season 11 champion of "Dancing With the Stars," coming out on top based on an equal combination of judges' scores and viewers' votes. Although she topped the judges' scorecards with regularity this season, it was not without a struggle.
During her finale freestyle to "Do You Love Me," where Grey shimmied her heart out, she also ruptured a disc in her back, and wasn't sure if her injury would keep her from dancing in Tuesday night's two-hour season finale for the title.
"I did not think I was going to be able to dance," Grey, who was still flying high from her big win, said on "GMA."
"I'm feeling great.
"This dance experience was so much more difficult [than 'Dirty Dancing' where] I learned basically one dance over the course of months," she added. "It was a completely different level of dancing."
Disney Channel star Kyle Massey, who took second place and had been a fan favorite among teens and tweens for his spunk and high-energy on the dance floor, said he was proud to have made it to the finals.
"The last thing I was expecting to do in this competition was to be the last man standing, dancing," he said. "I was an actor looking for a new experience and I was thrown into a new situation.
"It's been probably one of the greatest experiences in all of television."
"This has definitely been a life-changing experience and I've had the time of my life," Palin said after her defeat.
Her partner, Mark Ballas, said, "I was really grateful to have her as a partner. I was proud to be in the final with these two couples."
After 10 weeks of stiff competition, "Bristol the Pistol," whose spot in the finals was surrounded by controversy for her low scores in prior weeks, said she was ready to return home to Alaska and spend time with her family.
The three couples talked about what it was really like in the ballroom, backstage and during their grueling rehearsals.
Lassey Schwimmer said that Massey, who was known on-and-off camera for his enthusiastic personality, was always smiling, except when he was hungry.
"Don't mess with him when he's hungry," she joked.
Massey lost 20 pounds and shed 8 inches from his waist by shimmying and shaking. Schwimmer tried to get Massey to abstain from his beloved cheeseburgers and fast food during the competition.
Schwimmer said she was most surprised that Massey "doesn't listen." "He's a 19-year-old boy," she joked, "why would he?"
Ballas said of 20-year-old partner Palin: "I was just surprised for a non-entertainer, non-performer how focused [Palin] would stay throughout the day."