Mirai Nagasu is a figure skater who made history at the 2018 Winter Olympics when she landed the rare and incredibly difficult triple axel jump, which made her the first U.S. female figure skater to land the jump during an Olympic competition. Now, she’s taking on the competition on season 26 of Dancing with the Stars, and she is blogging about her experience on the ABC reality show for PEOPLE. Follow Nagasu, 25, and her partner Alan Bersten, 23, on Twitter!
To get the 10 from Rashad Jennings with our Disney themed dance last week felt good and really validating, because Alan and I put in so many hours of work. We put in so many hours of rehearsal that people don’t see on TV but since I was a competitive Olympic athlete, that switch was easy. Obviously I’m really competitive and once you get the 10, you set your sights on more and now I feel like I’m hungrier than ever to get a higher score.
There are always challenges to overcome each week. I actually don’t think people really understand that even though I’m a figure skater and musicality is an advantage for me, I’ve really never danced any of these dances before. Alan and I have two quick dances this week, the Quick Step and also the Jive. With the Jive, it’s very important to have quick feet and keep the upper body still and that’s been surprisingly hard for me. I think I’m going to be a little bit out of breath during Monday’s show but learning all the dances has been so much fun and it’s been keeping me in shape.
Olympic ice dancer — and former Mirrorball trophy champion — Meryl Davis helped me and Adam Rippon this week as our celebrity mentor. It’s going to be a battle on Monday with two couples competing against each other. Talking with Meryl on and off the camera, she had some really good words of advice and told us to, most importantly, have fun. To be honest, I love ballroom dancing a lot, but Alan gets a little bit stressed out. It’s totally understandable, because each week he puts a lot of pressure on himself to come up with strong choreography that not only showcases his ability in the best possible light but also makes me look good. He’s been putting a lot of pressure on himself, and I think that Dancing with the Stars for the ballroom dancers is comparable to the Olympics, so I keep that in mind when he gets a little bit stressed out. For me and Alan, it’s been a really enjoyable experience because we can really relate to each other.
Since Alan and I are so close in age, we don’t have an issue hanging outside the studio and we went to dinner on Wednesday with Adam. The show puts us up in an apartment, and my apartment happened to have two rooms, so Adam decided to move in with me — it’s like the Olympics all over again! Where I’m located is way more convenient and it makes life so much easier for going into the rehearsal space and also the studio. It’s funny to say this because I’m closer to 30 than my young 20s now, but I feel like Adam and I are adult-ing when we get home and we share a glass of wine. It’s really nice to have that friendship and that camaraderie. I think Dancing with the Stars really wants us to be competitive against each other and, of course, when I go out on the ballroom floor, I want to be the best. But at the same time, I’ve known Adam for so long ,and it’s hard to get into the mentality of really wanting to beat him and compete head-to-head against him.
I honestly wish we had more time on the show, because I really enjoy this process. Every person has a different learning style and a different teaching style. Alan and I got thrown together, and at first it was hard because we had just met. You really have to get to know someone, and so I was really quiet at the beginning, but I think our teaching and learning styles have really evolved. It’s been really fun to get into the groove and to only have two more weeks of that at most, I definitely wish we had more time.
Dancing with the Stars: Athletes airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.