"You don't have to Google anyone," the longtime pro tells PEOPLE. "You know every single person"

By Mark Gray
September 04, 2013 03:30 PM
Craig Sjodin/ABC

As the contestants for the 17th-season contestants of Dancing with the Stars were announced Wednesday, two of the show’s longtime pros expressed their approval.

“I think the guests are the strongest we’ve had,” Karina Smirnoff, 35, recently told PEOPLE about those who will compete, including Jack Osbourne, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Leah Remini and Valerie Harper.

“You don’t have to Google anyone,” she said. “You know every single person.”

Dancers have been training with their mystery partners for several weeks now, which led to early speculation as to who would be joining the show.

Cheryl Burke and Jack Osbourne
Craig Sjodin/ABC

“The cast is great,” fellow pro Cheryl Burke, 29, told PEOPLE. “You know every single person, whether they’ve been in the media the past few months or if they’re super famous. The past couple seasons have been great, but there is something extra special about this one.”

Smirnoff and Burke took a moment from their training on Thursday to to help launch Pom Wonderful’s new juice blend drinks at Las Vegas’s Encore Beach Club. Taking a brief break was no doubt helpful to their dance partners, too, considering they’re being pushed out of their comfort zones by participating on the show in the first place.

“They come into our world and they put themselves in a very vulnerable position,” Smirnoff said. “We see their insecurities, their fear. They come to our world and they don’t know it. I take my hat off to them.”

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