DWTS’ Sasha Farber: Tonya Harding Has ‘Suffered and Been Through A Lot’

Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber on ‘Dancing With The Stars‘
Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber on ‘Dancing With The Stars‘ Kelsey McNeal via Getty Images

Dancing With the Stars pro Sasha Farber is blogging exclusively with Us Weekly about his quest to take home the season 26 mirrorball trophy with partner Tonya Harding. Check back each week for his latest update on the competition.

I can’t believe we’re half-way through the season. Having a shorter season means we’ve got a 10-week season in just four weeks. It’s not easy on the celebrity or the pro. Usually you start getting longer dances and extra dances a lot further into the competition. You do that after the celebs have a few dances under the belts, but now they’re already learning an extra dance.

Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber on ‘Dancing With The Stars‘
Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber on ‘Dancing With The Stars‘ Kelsey McNeal via Getty Images

Tonya has suffered and been through a lot. She’s so happy and excited to be here. This competition means the world to her because it’s like her last hurrah. By that, I mean there are so many things opening up for her.

Last week, Tonya and I went to appear on Live with Kelly and Ryan. It was a great opportunity for Tonya to visit the show and speak out a little bit. Since the movie (I, Tonya), Tonya’s name has become a household one again and there are negative comments out there. You’re always going to get that, but she’s such a strong women and a role model because she gets so much criticism and she comes back harder and harder each time. That’s why I love working with her and teaching her each week.

She’s also been very vocal in her appreciation of me. We definitely have an amazing relationship. She’s a hard worker. In the short amount of time we’ve been together, I know what it takes for her to be the best she can be. She’s a very good listener. She believes in a coach. She trusts me and says, “Whatever Sasha says, we’ll do.” I’m grateful to have such an amazing partner. That’s what it’s all about.

Tonya brought her son to the show this week. She told me she’s received death threats (over the years) and so she wants to keep her family out of the limelight. Her family means so much to her. Her son is what changed everything for her. He gave her the power to live and move on. For her son to see his mom performing live on TV was amazing. He wasn’t born yet when she was skating so he couldn’t see that live. She didn’t want him to miss the chance to see that. He said he was so proud of her. It was beautiful to see.

Next week, I want to push Tonya to her limits. In one number, she is going to (especially) connect with the audience and the audience will, in turn, connect with her. What’s so rewarding for me is seeing the joy she experiences when she performs. This is another chance for her – except it’s not on the ice. Tonya has a second chance now. I’m looking for her to feel the joy a person can have when you get to finish something that you thought at one point you’d never get to do.

Often, we’ll incorporate into dances what celebs are known for. I love to skate. I’m not going to lie. But I haven’t been on skates (since I started teaching Tonya). I wish we had time to do all that. After the show, I would love to have Tonya to take me out skating and teach me a triple axel.

Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Monday at 8 p.m. ET.

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