Danica McKellar may be the one in physical pain after breaking her rib in Dancing With the Stars Latin Night rehearsals, but her Season 18 pro partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy is feeling his own emotional pain.
Danica and Val have two dances tonight, a Salsa and a team dance. But they found out on Thursday that Danica has a fractured rib. “This is a pain that Danica’s had since Week 2,” Val wrote in his TODAY blog. “We tried a couple of lifts this week while rehearsing and we heard a ‘pop’ and then it was over. The pain was so bad she started crying. We went to the hospital for another X-ray. She has a fractured rib.”
While this is obviously hardest on Danica, Val said this is the also most challenging experience he’s ever had as a DWTS pro. “I got my eye literally torn out of my socket an hour before the live finale of a season I was favored to win with Zendaya. But that was me. I’m good.” But when it comes to his partner, who is in his care, he can’t help but feel responsible.
“In this case, Danica’s standing there with tears in her eyes, telling me her rib was fractured,” Val wrote. “And all I could think was that it was my fault. It’s not a good feeling. She’s standing there in pain and I’m making her dance! What is that? I didn’t sign up to be a bad dude. I’m here to have fun. How do you end up in this position? It’s very difficult for me. She’s in pain and it’s hard for her. I’m trying to be as sympathetic and supportive as I can be. From my end I’m incredibly torn. I feel responsible. It makes me very, very sad.”
Val explained his own internal struggle, since he was so excited for the Salsa and choreographed an amazing routine, and of course they both want to make it as far as they can in this highly competitive season.
“I push myself to create this choreography and I push Danica to do this choreography. But she’s not an athlete or a dancer — she just eats right and believes in a healthy lifestyle. She’s fragile and I have her doing things that are very physically demanding.” He said Danica broke her rib doing a trick that was going to be mind-blowing and, when done correctly, there’s no injury or pain. “She ended up crushing the right side of her rib cage, but the trick is out of this world.” Guess that’s the upside!
He also reached out to DWTS alumni Maria Menounos and Leah Remini, because they had rib issues during their seasons, so they could offer therapy and advice.
So he’s trying to do all he can while also supporting Danica and keeping them alive in the competition. Poor Danica. And poor Val. Good luck to both of them tonight, and in future dances!
DWTS Season 18 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.