Olympian Laurie Hernandez, whose pro partner is Val Chmerkovskiy, is blogging exclusively with Us Weekly about her quest to take home the Dancing With the Stars season 23 mirrorball trophy! With the finale hours away, here’s her final update on the competition.
I can’t believe this is almost over. It’s bittersweet. It’s exciting that we were able to make the finals, but at the same time I don’t want it to be over! I feel like I blinked, and the season went by. I feel like Val and I just met for the first time — I look back at doing that first week cha-cha, and now we’re rehearsing the freestyle for the finale. It’s so sad! But it’s okay because my mom already accepted him into our family. She said, “Oh, he’s just like another son of mine!” So I think we’re definitely going to stay in touch after this.
For the finale, we have two dances for Monday. We have what they call a “redemption dance” so we’re doing a paso doble, and it’s a different creative, different outfit, different song, and different choreography, but it’s the same dance style. So I’m really excited, also because every week we switch to different dance styles, so it’s nice for once to go back and try one we did a while ago — I think now I understand the paso doble more, so this one is going to be a lot better. I feel different because I’ve had a lot of experience of doing the dance styles at this point, but it’s also sad, like, “Oh, no! When is the next time I’m going to get to do a paso doble?!” For the freestyle, I want you to be surprised, but I will tell you there’s going to be a lot of cool stuff you haven’t seen before from me and Val, so it should be pretty exciting. Our song is called “Brand New” by Ben Rector, and it’s really upbeat and fun. I think everyone’s going to like it — if you list en to the lyrics, it really suits my personality.
It’s going to be so sad not to see everyone on Mondays anymore. I’m not ready to say goodbye yet! It’s been so hectic — Jana and I haven’t even found a time to go shopping together yet! The whole cast is on a group chat though, so I think we’re all going to stay in touch at least there.
The past three months have just been awesome. When I look back at this experience, I’m going to remember learning how to dance in heels and getting blisters from that, I’m going to remember stepping on Val’s toes and elbowing him, and I’m going to remember getting dressed up and feeling like a princess wearing things I have never ever worn in my life before. It’s just been awesome.
People have reached out to me via social media, and even though people can be crazy online, the majority of them are so nice and excited to walk this crazy journey that I’ve had this past year with me. People have said, “You inspire me,” or parents will say, “My daughter decided to try gymnastics because of you!” It’s so nice. It’s comforting. Val has told me to just enjoy this moment, because as we know, it flies by, so I just want to make sure I’m taking it all in.
Watch the two-part finale of Dancing With the Stars on Monday, November 21, and Tuesday, November 22, on ABC at 8 p.m. ET. and 9 p.m ET.