“Hannah and I built such an amazing relationship during these 11, 12 weeks that it’s nice to look back and reflect on how amazing this experience has been and what a friend I made in Hannah,” Bersten told PEOPLE TV’s Reality Check on Tuesday.
During the season 28 DWTS finale on Nov. 25, Brown and Bersten, both 25, were crowned the Mirrorball Trophy winners.
But earning the title of champion wasn’t the only thing that Brown gained. After three months of practicing and dancing with Bersten, she admitted in a finale video package that working with him allowed her “to trust somebody again.”
And reflecting on his time spent with Brown throughout the ABC reality dance competition series, Bertsen revealed that his experience being paired with the Bachelorette alum was different than any of his previous celebrity partners.
“Hannah and I, it was a different partnership than I’ve ever experienced before because after rehearsals almost every day we would go and eat and just hang out and that’s very rare when you spend six hours with someone that you want to still see them afterwards,” said the first-time Mirrorball winner. “So I’m really lucky that me and Hannah became such good friends.”
But is there anything more than a friendship between the two?
“I don’t think so,” Bersten said with a laugh. “I think it’s just friends.”
RELATED VIDEO: Alan Bersten Understands Why The Judges Were Very Critical of Hannah Brown
Throughout the three months of competition, audiences watched as Brown’s dancing continued to improve weekly. Still, while Brown ultimately took first place, the road to victory didn’t come without constructive criticism from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli.
But while Bertsen agreed that the judges were “extra critical” of Brown’s performances, he understood why.
“I feel like Hannah did such a good job and she didn’t get her perfect score until the freestyle, where I feel like she really did some amazing numbers and really gave her heart out there,” said Bersten. “But I can see why the judges were a little more critical of her. I feel like they wanted to really push Hannah because they saw the potential that I don’t think she saw in herself yet.”
Echoing Brown’s comments, Bersten agreed that the pair built a deep trust, which enabled them to take criticism in stride.
“Hannah and I built such a good relationship throughout the season that we could really trust each other and when we had to work on a note or a critique that the judges gave us, we just went through it and we realized that the more we put in during the rehearsals, the better it’s going to feel on Monday,” said Bersten. “And after every show on Monday, we looked back at the dances and we would feel good if we knew that we gave it our best.”
“Even if the judges didn’t give us the best scores, as long as we tried our hardest, that’s when we knew we did a good job,” said Bersten.