What a week it was for Melissa Rycroft! On March 2 viewers saw her get engaged to Jason Mesnick on The Bachelor, then, only minutes later, they saw her get dumped on the After the Final Rose special.
One week later to the day, Rycroft emerged smelling like a rose when she performed the Viennese waltz live on Dancing with the Stars. She had the support of not one, but two men — Dancing partner Tony Dovolani and new boyfriend, Ty, a former flame she started seeing after things went south with Mesnick. Rycroft calls Ty, a Dallas-based insurance agent, her “rock.”
In the latest issue of PEOPLE, Rycroft says all she wanted to do after the Bachelor drama was go back to her life in Dallas. But when she got a call on Friday, March 6, from Dancing producers asking her to fill in last-minute for injured Access Hollywood host Nancy O’Dell, she couldn’t resist.
“This is a reward, in a way, for what just happened,” Rycroft says, knowing that sore muscles and all, the opportunity was a no-brainer. Even though doing the waltz made the former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader “feel like an elephant in high heels,” Rycroft says her objective was simple: “to go and have fun. That’s the best I can do.”
Rycroft received two standing ovations from Dancing’s March 9 audience … – when she took the floor for the first time and after she executed an admirable waltz with Dovolani.
The affection touched her heart. “I cannot think of a bigger word than overwhelming,” Rycroft said of her debut. –Monica Rizzo
For the complete interview with Rycroft, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. Kelsey McNeal/ABC