Two-time champion Chmerkovskiy was sitting front row to support his girlfriend during Monday night's premiere
Though Val Chmerkovskiy isn’t competing on Dancing with the Stars‘ current all-athletes season, the two-time champion showed his support for girlfriend Jenna Johnson by sitting front row during Monday night’s premiere.
Since Chmerkovskiy is currently on tour with his brother Maks and sister-in-law Peta Murgatroyd, Johnson said she couldn’t have been happier to see him in the audience watching her second turn as a pro with her Olympic figure skating partner Adam Rippon.
“It is very weird seeing [Val] sitting and not dancing, but I’m so grateful that he was here and supportive,” Johnson, 24, told reporters after the live show. “It definitely helps us, I think. His energy is just contagious and he has a few Mirrorballs so we’re just trying to channel that.”
As for what advice Chmerkovskiy, 32, has given her to win, Johnson said, “He’s just told us to focus on ourselves and no one else and do our very best.”
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When Johnson and Rippon, 28, first met, they said there was no shortage of chemistry.
“I don’t really know what it was but as soon as Jenna and I met, we connected instantly,” Rippon said. “It felt like we had known each other for years and we were making each other laugh, finishing each other’s sentences and I think that’s why we’ve been able to have such a good time throughout this short little bit that we’ve been able to dance.”
Johnson added: “Don’t tell Val, but I think we were married in a past life!”
Whether it’s making a trip to grab some peanut M&M’s or traveling on the road, Johnson and Rippon said they do everything together — including FaceTiming their significant others to make long distance work.
“FaceTime is beautiful,” Johnson said.
“We both FaceTime our boyfriends during our rehearsals,” Rippon continued. “We’re like, ‘5 minute break! Hey guys!’ Then we talk about it and then we start dancing again. So it’s actually been awesome to go through this together.”
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Rippon met his boyfriend, Jussi-Pekka Kajaala, who’s from Finland, on Tinder a few months ago and made it official at the end of March. After impressing audiences and the judges, who gave them one of the highest scores of the night, with their Cha-cha during the premiere, it seems Rippon and Johnson will have to get used to FaceTiming as they breezed through to next week.
“We’re so happy with the way that we danced tonight, but we’re going to head right back into the studio and get started,” Rippon said. “We had a great time today but the next time we’re out on the dance floor, we want to feel even more confident and have an even better time.”
Dancing with the Stars: Athletes airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.