Aly Raisman is focused on one thing this week on Dancing with the Stars. "I want to impress Carrie Ann [Inaba]," she tells TVGuide.com. "She said I held back the first week and that I went out of character last week, so I don't want her to think that again this week." Raisman and her partner Mark Ballas have contemporary, and this week's theme is the Best Year of Your Life. Needless to say, that was 2012 for the Olympic champ. Find out what they have in store and get her take on the men vs. women Dancing debate.
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I assume 2012 was the best year of your life.
Aly Raisman: Yes! For me, of course, it's 2012 and the Olympics. The song that we're dancing to is the one I listened to every day before the Olympics and while in training. This version is a little slower and the dance is telling a story about how hard and intense training for the Olympics is. I'm really excited about it. I worked really hard really hard to get where I am and I think that will be shown in this dance.
This is your first dance with lifts. How's that going?
Raisman: It's going well. Mark always has awesome ideas. I don't think we'll have a ton, but I'm not worried about doing them or anything. The dance is very mature, so I like that a lot. And learning the choreography has been easier because this one has lyrics throughout the whole song. . That's how Mark is choreographing it. Plus, I've been through it, so I know what it's like and what the song is saying. Maybe "easier" is not the right word, but I understand it more. This dance is all feeling and all intensity.
So can you do your own Olympics face instead of Mark's faces?
Raisman: [Laughs] I think it'll just be serious faces. Mark does make intense faces. I laugh at him in rehearsal, but I don't think he realizes it.
Were you happy with your Viennese waltz?
Raisman: Yeah, I was really happy. I wish I got three 8s, but that's OK. I'm not complaining. I really want to impress Carrie Ann. She said I held back the first week and that I went out of character this week, so I don't want her to think that again. I'm working on the performance aspect of this, so hopefully I'll do a good job and she'll love it. Of course I want to impress all the judges. I was happy last week when Bruno [Tonioli] and Len [Goodman] stood up for me. I thought that was really cool.
Len pulled a fast one on you on April Fool's Day.
Raisman: [Laughs] Oh, my God! I totally believed him. He would say something like that. If he doesn't like something, he'll straight-up tell you. Mark thought he was serious too. I think everyone thought he was serious.
He's tough to please. Do you think he's been too harsh on D.L. [Hughley]? Saying he would've scored him lower on re-watch is adding salt to the wound.
Raisman: Yeah, I feel bad for D.L. He's a great guy and he's been working really hard. You can totally see the improvement in him every week. It's not an overnight transformation, but he is getting better. Everyone is coming in at a different level and has different ability. Hopefully Len will be happy with it this week. ... I think they realize they're being harsh, but it's part of the show. Maybe they have expectations of him, so they're pushing him. I don't know. I can't really tell yet. I know they're not doing it to be mean. The judges are all really nice people.
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Were you surprised Wynonna [Judd] left?
Raisman: Yeah, but mostly because you never know. It was sad. I've really enjoyed getting to know her. She's hilarious. I'd love to see her sing on the show, so she better come back this season to perform. I honestly kind of forgot about the elimination. [Laughs] We were busy watching Demi Lovato and all the performances, and Mark was like, "Oh, my God! We haven't been saved yet." I totally forgot that we weren't safe yet. Then you're happy when you're safe and then after it's over, it's like, "OK, time to do this all over again."
Are you getting more used to the shorter schedule now?
Raisman: Yeah. This week was a little crazy. It's a little overwhelming. April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and I'm a spokesperson for [The Century Council's] "Ask, Listen, Learn" program. [On Friday] I woke up at 3 a.m. to do a media tour for it ... until 2 p.m. And then rehearsal was from 3 to 8 or 10 p.m. It is a lot, but I love it. I wouldn't trade it for anything. To be able to set that example for everyone, I'm not complaining.
What kind of work are you doing with them?
Raisman: I'm getting the word out. It's about setting a good example. I'm the oldest of four siblings and up-and-coming gymnasts are so young, so I just want to set a good example. Say no to underage drinking and live a healthy lifestyle.
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What's your take on the debate about who has it harder on the show, men or women?
Raisman: I'm probably being biased because I'm a girl, but I think women have it harder. Like with lifts, the men just have to be strong and make sure they don't drop them. The women have to learn how to lift themselves. It's not just putting your legs over their heads. You have to lift from your core so you're not heavy for them. I think when people are watching, their eyes automatically go to the girl. It's harder for girls to be sexy. You have to work your hips and your costumes and the steps. The guy can just take their shirt off and be manly or goofy.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
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