Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff
They're not newcomers — the 13 Dancing With The Stars: All-Stars contestants have been to this rodeo before. You wouldn't expect them to be all that nervous, but on Monday's season premiere, they were.
So nervous that Joey Fatone says he panicked a little when he found out that he and partner Kym Johnson would be dancing first. "It was so nerve-wracking," says Fatone. "When you're first out of the gate, there's a level of expectation. And you hope that you meet that expectation, but literally, today, I was thinking, 'What did I get myself into again?'"
So nervous that football great Emmitt Smith says he was intimidated by the actual ballroom, which has been completely redesigned since his Season 3 win six years ago. Smith was so overwhelmed that he forgot his steps moments before stepping on stage. "I didn't tell her," he says, motioning towards partner Cheryl Burke, "but there was a whole section that just went blank."
And there's already an injury. "I'm hurt," says Gilles Marini, who tried to hide his limp up the stairs to the show's skybox; he pulled his right hamstring before turning in a stellar performance. How did he manage to make his dancing look pain-free? "You just have to smile and go," he says. But with the cameras gone, he looked subdued and worried. "Next week is the jive. I don't know if I'm going to be able to kick."
But the best story of the night came from Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno, who says he wasn't sure he even wanted to return when he found out his partner would be the fiery Karina Smirnoff. "True story," says Smirnoff. "He was asked to come back and he talked to Julianne [Hough, his former partner], and she said no [to returning]."
Adds Ohno, "Then they asked me, 'What do you think about dancing with Karina?' And I said, 'I know she's like, the best dancer, but isn't she kind of crazy?' True story, man. I don't lie. And then one of the producers told me, 'I don't know if she's crazy, but she's got a heart of gold.' And so I started watching some interviews with her, and I thought, 'Yeah, she's crazy. But in a good way.' I don't want to be with someone who's boring. I want to do the show, but I want to have fun."
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