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.