Apolo Ohno is a former Dancing with the Stars champion, winning the coveted mirror-ball trophy in season 4 with Julianne Hough. The ice-skating Olympian is now blogging for PEOPLE.com about competing with Karina Smirnoff in the all-star season.
It felt good not going home on Tuesday, but at the same time, I never want to see anyone else go home either. Everybody’s dancing so well and you become friends with everybody on the show during the time you’re there. You cheer everybody on and you watch them grow as dancers and as people.
Now that we’ve made it to week nine, oh, man, I’m dying. Not really, but for me this is by far the absolute hardest week I’ve ever had on Dancing with the Stars. We have big top jazz, which is a dance that I know zero about. I’ve never done it before on the show, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen it before on the show.
Our choreography is super intense, different, unique, fun, almost Cirque du Soleil-like a little bit. It’s crazy. There’s so much content in it. I feel like I need another two weeks just to work on that dance. Then we also have the rumba, which we haven’t even started yet.
I can’t control the outcome of the show. The fans have carried us this far, which has been an absolute blessing. But I take every week on the show as if it’s my last. The only thing I can control is how much time, energy and effort we put into each week. Who cares about the scores? Who cares if somebody dances better? Doing my very best is rewarding internally.
I think voters know that we work extremely hard and we have fun. I hope that, especially over the past couple of weeks, people have been able to see how much in character we get. It’s acting, it’s fun, it’s theatrical, it’s emotional, it’s physical. It’s all in one package.
Looking back on the season thus far, I had no idea the competition was going to be this difficult. I knew there were going to be challenges, but I didn’t know they were going to be this big. Every single week has been a true test for me to really dig deep and find what is possible beyond just the dance floor.
Luckily, Karina [Smirnoff] has been there as an absolutely incredible teacher who is so passionate and so into giving her best. That’s what it takes. I feel like we’ve overcome so many challenges so far. I feel like we are champions already, regardless of what happens in the next couple of weeks. I feel like that’s going to show when we dance on Monday. We are truly going to push the boundaries this week.