Monday, May 20, 2013
Aly Raisman is ready for 'Dancing' finals
By Lynn Hoppes
Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas are in the finals of "Dancing with the Stars."
It's down to the final four on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," and Olympic gymnastics champion and Season 16 competitor Aly Raisman summed it up best:
"Everyone wants to win, but at the same time it's not life or death. It's more about having fun and enjoying the experience and having a good time."
The 18-year-old Raisman, who is teamed with professional dancer Mark Ballas, is joined in the final four by Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones, singer Kellie Pickler and Disney Channel star Zendaya Coleman. The two-part finale begins Monday, with the mirror ball trophy winner crowned Tuesday.
Playbook had a few minutes with Raisman, who won two Olympic gold medals last summer, before she prepared for this week's shows.
What would winning mean to you?
"It's hard to put into words, but it would mean everything. It's been the most amazing experience of my life. I've made so many amazing friendships. I feel so lucky to be on this show. Mark and I have worked so hard together. It would mean a lot to win."
"Amazing" seems like the right word for you from the Olympics last summer to now.
"I can't believe this is my life. About one year ago, I graduated from high school. I can't believe how different my life is today. It was that one moment in the Olympics, and it was life-changing. I feel so lucky. It makes me happy that my hard work is paying off. I've sacrificed so much to get where I am."
Were you nervous about joining this competitive show?
"I was nervous because I didn't know what to expect. I was out of my comfort zone. Over time, I've gotten so comfortable. I'm happy I've done the show. The camaraderie has been great with the other competitors."
So many athletes have won. Was that added pressure?
"I don't think so. Athletes typically do well because of the work ethic we put in for the hours of training. I'm definitely competitive and want to do well. I said I wanted to make the finals since day one. And Mark and I did it. What more can you ask for?"
And what will we see tonight?
"I feel like every week I've showed a different side of me. I'm finally showing my personality. I'm really relaxed. In gymnastics, you get months to prepare a routine. This show, you have five days to learn a dance, and sometimes three in one week. I'm not a professional dancer so it was a little hard. I love this challenge."
And what's next?
"I'm doing some promotional work for this show and then I'm heading to Israel this summer. At the end of the summer, I'll begin training again. I'm excited to get back and into the gym. 'Dancing with the Stars' made me miss gymnastics. I can't wait."