Nov. 24, 2010 — -- 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."
In third place was Bristol Palin, the daughter of former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who started out with the least performance experience.
"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.
'DWTS' Finalists Dish on 'GMA'
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."
When asked if Ballas and Palin had any future projects planned together, Palin joked with Ballas: "Am I going to be your back up dancer?"
Grey lauded partner Hough for his choreography for their finale freestyle to "Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)" that paid homage to "Dirty Dancing."
"He decided to do that song. ... Derek is so smart that way," she said of Hough. "He's insanely talented. ... Can we just talk about that?"
The three couples took to the dance floor for the last time at "GMA," performing special numbers: Palin and Ballas and Massey and Schwimmer danced lively jives, and winners Grey and Hough performed the emotional waltz that Grey dedicated to the late "Dirty Dancing" co-star Patrick Swayze.
'Dancing With the Stars' Finale Recap
At the start of Tuesday night's two-hour finale, Grey revealed that she had to go to the hospital after two perfect scores from the judges in competition Monday night. Despite a severe back injury, she said, she would keep trying to dance for the title.
"I think I left a little bit of my spine on the floor and I ruptured a disk," she said toward the top of the show. "This might be my last two chances to dance on this show with [professional dance partner] Derek Hough. I think I'd better do it."
She did dance two more times. After winning, she added, "I'm really glad I did."
After learning of her win, she embraced Hough, who lifted her off the floor and spun her around. Show host Tom Bergeron warned him to be careful of Grey's back injury.
The winners then hoisted the winners' mirror-ball trophy over their heads as confetti rained down.
With her first dance of the evening, a Viennese waltz, Grey received yet another perfect score from the judges. Ranked against her two competitors, she received three 10s, meaning all the judges considered her dance the best.
Two judges ranked Massey second, earning him a total score of 26, and one ranked Palin second, earning her a 25.
In the second dance, an "instant" cha-cha to music only revealed to the dancers an hour beforehand, Grey and Massey earned combined 28s, while Palin earned a 27.
Combined with Monday night's two dances, that left Grey with a judges' tally of 118, Massey with 110 and Palin with 104.
Despite her last-place scores in all four of her finale dances, Palin wasn't out of the competition.
"Going out there and winning this would mean a lot," Palin said in a taped segment toward the start of Wednesday night's finale. "It would be like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me."
'Dancing With the Stars': Profiles of the Finalists
Of the three, Grey's probably the only one immediately recognizable for her ability to dance. After all, she shot to fame playing Frances "Baby" Houseman in 1987's "Dirty Dancing" alongside Swayze. She also studied dancing at the Dalton School during her early years in New York City.
But the breakneck pace of "DWTS" took a toll on Grey, 50, aggravating an old neck injury and prompting new knee problems. Still, with pro partner Hough, she scored the season's first perfect score earlier this month.
If Grey hadn't won it all, no one should have expected her to take it lightly. As Swayze famously said of her character in "Dirty Dancing," "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."
The youngest of the lot, Massey, 19, has a huge following among teens and tweens. He's best known for playing Cory Baxter in the Disney Channel sitcom "That's So Raven."
Massey parlayed his role in that show into his own Disney series, "Cory in the House." He has also appeared in Disney Channel movies and recorded songs for Walt Disney Records.
Making the jump from the Disney Channel to another Disney property, "DWTS," made sense, and Massey's made good on the show; not only has he scored high marks from the judges and the viewers, he also lost the weight.
Massey's enthusiasm has won him some high-profile fans outside of his usual demographic; former "DWTS" contestants Lance Bass and Brandy Norwood said they wanted him to win. But if Massey had won the coveted mirror-ball trophy, he said he was going to celebrate like a kid.
"I'm going to fill it up with Skittles, so everyone can come to my house and eat Skittles," he told "Entertainment Tonight" last week. "Taste the rainbow trophy."
She doesn't dance. She doesn't sing. She doesn't act. But the one selling point Palin possesses is the ability to rile up her critics, whether as a spokeswoman for abstinence (remember that child she birthed in 2008?) or as a potential "DWTS" champion.
From the moment she cha-cha-ed onto the show to "Mama Told Me Not to Come," Bristol Palin has been this season's most talked-about contestant. Beyond the voting controversy, her dance-floor style has been critiqued.
Before her "Dancing" run, Bristol Palin told People magazine she would have "the most modest outfits for sure, because that's who I am."
Indeed, her assortment of floor-length gowns has been a frequent topic of conversation among those on the Internet who about such things.
ABC News Alex Stone in Los Angeles contributed to this report.