Each finalist performed two routines Monday - one of which was an elaborate freestyle. For the other performance, they each got to choose the style of dance that they felt best showcased their skill.
At the end of Monday night's show, Rycroft topped the leaderboard after earning two perfect scores. Monaco followed one point behind, with Johnson a close third.
In such a close finale, season 14 champion Donald Driver said the star who he thinks will win the mirror ball trophy may not be the one who most deserves it.
"I think Shawn's going to win, especially because of the fan votes, but if I had to put money on it, I want Melissa to win. I want her to win her first mirror ball," Driver said today on " Good Morning America."
The three women will dance one more time during Tuesday's finale results show. They will pick the music and style for their instant dances during the show. Judges will score their performances, and those scores will be added to Monday's totals and viewers' votes.
The mirror ball trophy will be presented to the finalist with the highest combined total of judges' scores and viewer votes.
Kelly Monaco: The "General Hospital" star chose to reprise her week 3 paso doble. Even though she missed her partner's hand during a spin early on in her routine, judges approved. "You can always ignite drama, you always have power but what I saw tonight was artistry and polish …," judge Bruno Tonioli said, commended her for recovering after the "slight mishap with the hand." Judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Len Goodman told her tonight's paso doble was her best dance yet. Monaco earned 29.5 out of a possible 30 points.
Melissa Rycroft: The TV personality gave an encore of her samba, and again won rave reviews from the judges. Goodman, the head judge, dubbed Rycroft the "carnival queen," adding, "you captured the party flavor of the samba. Great technique, great rhythm. Fabulous!" She topped her earlier samba performance, which earned her 27 points. Tonight judges awarded her earned 30 points - a perfect score.
Shawn Johnson: The Olympian and her partner, Derek Hough, reprised their electrifying quickstep that broke the rules of hold the first time they did it. They chose to break the rules again tonight, deciding it was more important to entertain fans than to please judges, and the judges definitely disapproved. Inaba acknowledged the routine as being "fantastic," but said she was sad that the pair chose not to follow the rules, telling them that points mattered at this point. Goodman agreed, adding: "You're not allowed to break hold which, you did. You're not allowed to do lifts, which you did. You leave me nowhere to go." Tonioli commended the pair for having always pushed the boundaries this season, but said "our scores are bound by the rules, but it takes nothing away from your achievement." Johnson earned 27 points.
The 'Supersized' Freestyles
Kelly Monaco: Monaco's freestyle featured a "Dirty Dancing"-themed routine that opened with her performing an aerial dance. The rest of the performance featured extra dancers from the "Dancing With the Stars" Troupe, plus a chorus of gospel singers. Goodman said the routine lacked a little originality, but he praised the lifts and said "the opening was spectacular." Tonioli enjoyed the chemistry and what he called the mix of Cirque du Soleil with "Dirty Dancing." Inaba said everyone has watched Monaco and partner Val Chmerkovskiy grow as a couple - and while she wasn't sure they were a real couple or not, she said she enjoyed the routine. "You added artistry and you told us a happy ending to a beautiful love story and I thought it was wonderful," she said. When the show's co-host, Brooke Burke-Charvet, asked the pair about the status of their relationship, Monaco demurred, saying there was still another day of interviewing to do. She earned 29.5 points.
Melissa Rycroft: Her contemporary-inspired freestyle routine with partner Tony Dovolani earned Rycroft the highest of feedback from the judges: a perfect score. Goodman said the routine had passion. Tonioli said Rycroft has "fantastic extensions, beautiful lines, sculptural positions, musicality and lyricism," finishing with: "You were a gem!" Inaba said Rycroft took "humongous risks, and with great risk comes great reward. Freestyle jackpot!"
Shawn Johnson: Backed by the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team on the dance floor, Johnson's high-flying freestyle brought the ballroom audience surging to its feet. Goodman said the routine was a medley of the best of the pair's routines from the season, dubbing it a "gold medal performance." Inaba said the dance was "supersized and sensational!" Tonioli found it "fierce, flawless, exciting, explosive and brilliant." Johnson earned 30 points.
The Scores (First Routine; Freestyle: Total)
Melissa Rycroft: 30; 30: Total: 60
Kelly Monaco: 29.5; 29.5: Total: 59
Shawn Johnson: 27; 30: Total: 57