Dancing With the Stars pro Karina Smirnoff is a fan favorite with a recent win under her belt, who was just paired with former DWTS champ (not to mention Olympics super-star) Apolo Anton Ohno for the All-Star Season 15. So you'd think she'd be feeling pretty good about her chances this season, right?

Not quite! Wetpaint Entertainment had a chance to chat with Karina at the 2012 Do Something Awards, and she opened up about why she's nervous for this season, why Apolo thinks this season in "not the same," and why they'll be in the studio "24-7."

Wetpaint Entertainment: Is the Mirror Ball within your reach this season?

Karina Smirnoff: You know I never thought that JR [Martinez] and I were going to win up until we were standing there on the left and Rob and Cheryl on the right and they were about to announce it. At this point I still didn’t believe it could be us because I didn’t want to set the bar for the win rather than just enjoy the process because it’s beautiful. So I don’t want to think of that because otherwise you get all freaked out and you start over analyzing things and then you lose it because of your own mistakes. When you truly enjoy it you don’t get too caught up in all the other BS.

Have you talked strategy with Apolo?

No, because we only met once at the title shoots. Then we’ve been texting a couple times back and forth because we have to choose songs that we would potentially like to dance to, but he just said he’s really, really nervous. And also Apolo said that he thinks the show has really, really progressed from earlier seasons in terms of the level of choreography, the difficulty, the technique so he’s like, “This is not the same!”

Since you’re dancing with people who know the show, can you push yourself further?

Absolutely, I think we should, I think celebs are going to be ready and they’re going to want us to push them harder than before and I think the dancers will want to push themselves to pull more out of our celebs. So I’m a little nervous because this is a lot of pressure. Everyone is going to jump out of their bodies to do something spectacular. I just hope we are smart and don’t get injured.

Who is your biggest competition?

I don’t know. I think everybody is great. I mean Gilles, I think Gilles is definitely in it to win it, he’s ready. Helio is the ultimate competitor. Emmett Smith, and this is just covering the men so I don’t know! Derek and Shawn, another Olympian!! [Makes an angry face]

Apolo should be able to handle the pressure at this point, he’s an Olympian!

You know I think the discipline, the determination, the ethic in the work place, I don’t think I have to worry about that. I’m so excited! What I do feel a little nervous about is the fact I’m a workaholic and I like to spend like 10-12 hours in the studio and from what I hear so is he, so I really think we’ll be dancing 24-7, which might be really good for us!!

What did you think of the pairing of champions against people who haven’t won the Mirror Ball before?

I think it’s exciting because any time you are a runner up or an underdog or haven’t really gotten that title full on, it makes you want to work that much harder so it’s a different drive, it’s a hungrier drive than the drive of a champion who is trying to defend a title. So we’ll see two different spheres of competition.


Dancing With the Stars Season 15: All-Stars will premiere on Monday, September 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Check out the full All-Stars cast list here.

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