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Eliminated contestant Sailor Brinkley-Cook grateful for time on 'DWTS'

Sailor Brinkley-Cook and partner Val Chmerkovskiy dance the

Sailor Brinkley-Cook and partner Val Chmerkovskiy dance the jive on Monday's "Dancing With the Stars." Credit: ABC / Eric McCandless

Following her upset elimination from "Dancing With the Stars" Monday night, model Sailor Brinkley-Cook, who had replaced her injured mother, Christie Brinkley, days before the season 28 premiere, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to face her fears.

"I love this experience so much," Brinkley-Cook, 21, told "Good Morning America" immediately afterward on the "DWTS" studio set, using the present tense before adding, "I loved going to the [rehearsal] studio and being able to do something I never thought I could do."

Her professional ballroom-dance partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, 33, told the morning show he was "very proud that Sailor was able to step up to the plate and create a silver lining to a terrible situation." Brinkley-Cook then thanked "everyone who supported me, because I know I'm not a big star but I was so happy to have done something that I was so afraid of."

"I'm proud of you. Keep your head up champ!" Chmerkovskiy wrote on social media Monday after the show, adding in a second post, "C'est La Vie Superstar, this is just the beginning, even if it feels like the end." Brinkley-Cook commented on the Instagram version of the first post, saying, "Thank you thank you thank you. I'll find words tomorrow but for now thank you so much my buddy." Bridgehampton supermodel Brinkley did not comment on her social media as of Tuesday afternoon.

In a post to her Instagram account Tuesday, Brinkley-Cook called her elimination from the show "heartbreaking," and also thanked Chmerkovskiy and TV producer Michelle DeBellis.

"This experience changed my whole outlook on life," Brinkley-Cook wrote. "All my life I let my fears hold me back from anything i wasn’t comfortable with. This experience made me feel unstoppable. Each day on this rollercoaster ride was a massive learning lesson, a journey in 24 hours. Thank you to everyone for showing me so much love and to all my close friends and family for always believing in me and supporting me. Thank you to the whole crew on DWTS for showing unconditional kindness always. To my cast-mates who quickly became such good friends, thank you for taking me in and being so kind and supportive.. I’ll miss you guys!"

Following their energetic jive to the Wham! song "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” on Monday's episode, Brinkley-Cook and Chmerkovskiy scored 9s across the board, giving them 27 out of 30 for the night and 51 out of 60 over the past two episodes. Nonetheless, when viewer votes were counted, both they and consistent high scorers Ally Brooke, of the vocal group Fifth Harmony, and her pro partner Sasha Farber found themselves in the bottom two — despite Manhasset-born former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and pro partner Lindsay Arnold never scoring more than 21 out of 30.

Before the judges voted one of the couples out, stunned host Tom Bergeron acknowledged that, "Everybody is understandably upset right now." Judge Carrie Ann Inaba told the audience, "First of all, I'm shocked at this result right here, what's happening. … Sailor, tonight, I really feel you came into your own tonight and you had a wonderful performance," she said, but gave Brooke and Farber the edge — as did fellow judge Bruno Tonioli, causing Brinkey-Cook to break down in tears.

"This has been a complete shock," Bergeron declared. Chmerkovskiy told the host he was "so proud of" Brinkley-Cook, and comforted her, saying gently, "Keep your head up." The camera cut to head judge Len Goodman, visibly distraught at the turn of events.

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