The new season of Dancing with the Stars has yet to start but Cody Linley, the show’s youngest competitor, is already feeling the pressure.
“A lot of are saying, ‘You’ve got the best partner so you better step up your game!’” says Linley, 18, referring to dancing partner Julianne Hough, who holds not one, but two DWTS championship titles. “It’s going to be so much fun and I lucked out getting Julianne as my partner.”
Even his Hannah Montana costar Billy Ray Cyrus, who competed on Dancing‘s fourth season, knows Linley’s in good hands with Hough, 20. Cyrus assured him that he would “be better at the competition than me and you’ve got Julianne as your partner! Kid, you’re going to do great.”
The dancing duo, who have been practicing together for about a month, caught up with PEOPLE Thursday at the Radio Disney studio in Burbank, Calif., where Linley admitted all the dancing immediately took a toll on his body. “The first couple of weeks I got really sore…in parts of my body that I never knew had muscles!” he said. “Like the inside of my legs? I never expected that to hurt.”
And he wasn’t the only one with injuries. Hough was forced to trade in her dancing heels for tennis shoes after she hurt her knee and ankle slipping on a driveway. “I walk around in heels and dance in heels all day and you put me in flip flops and I tear up my foot!” said Hough. “I just put some bandages on it…I’m a trooper!”
Though the dancing duo haven’t been able to check out their competition, they already have an idea who will be their biggest threat. Hough predicts it might be her brother, Derek Hough, and his partner, TV personality, Brooke Burke, because of her “legs and arms that are hyper-extended, which is what you want in dancing.” But Linley believes it’s the show’s oldest competitor, Cloris Leachman.
“She’s super feisty,” Linley says about the 82-year-old actress. “She was already trash talking and everything! She was like, ‘You think you can take me? So you’re the youngest and I’m the oldest. Well, I’m going to show you up so get ready, buddy.’”
And how will he be able to do that? “Have fun and give it 100 percent,” says Linley, who adds that he’s swapped his Cap’n Crunch and frozen DiGiorno pizza diet for a more sensible one of fruit and health bars for “more energy.”
And though he hopes to earn America’s votes once the competition starts, his support group already includes fellow Hannah Montana cast members Miley Cyrus and Emily Osment, who plan to attend some of the show’s tapings. –Eunice Oh