updated 11/04/2013 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/04/2013 AT 7:00 AM ET
Karina Smirnoff is a former Dancing with the Stars champion, winning the coveted mirror-ball trophy in season 13 with J.R. Martinez. The longtime competitor will blog for PEOPLE.com about competing with former High School Musical star Corbin Bleu in season 17.
It was such a shock to see Nicole get eliminated. She did such a fantastic job on the show. And you got to see Nicole as the mother. The way she loves her baby is awesome. She’s so real, but at this point it would be really difficult to see anyone leave. You usually know who’s leaving and who’s staying by mid-season, but it’s been so unpredictable. It’s a very tough season.
Corbin and I were freaking out when we had bad scores and not the best dance. We were like,’That’s it. We’re going home.’ It’s like full-on panic. We take it so personal and so emotional and you start freaking out when the red like comes on. Corbin and I we’re swaying from left to right because it s so difficult to stand still.
It felt really good to get the scores that we did. The cha-cha was awesome. It had a different energy to it. It was like the happy dance. It might rain today, but when the sun comes out everything is going to get better. That’s the feeling we want in our dance.
It’s a little intimidating to dance to a Cher song while she’s watching and judging you. We’re dancing the Argentine tango to one of her songs. It has a very clear character and story behind it, so we have to fuse it all together and make sure she likes it! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I want to enjoy it and make the best of it and hopefully make her proud!
Watch Karina explain why the Argentine tango is tough: