Simone Biles didn’t flip out over tumbling in front of billions at the 2016 Olympics. But when she stepped into the Dancing With the Stars ballroom each week, “I freak out a little bit,” the four-time gold medalist, 20, admits in the new issue of Us Weekly. “I’m like, ‘I haven’t been training for months for this routine!’”
Sasha Farber, 33, her partner on the ABC competition, understands the nerves: “It’s foreign to her, but it’s nice to see Simone take on the challenge and succeed.”
Sent home on the Monday, May 15, episode, Biles and Farber — engaged to fellow pro Emma Slater — look back on their run with Us.
Us Weekly: What were your first impressions of each other?
Sasha Farber: I don’t get starstruck very often, but when she walked into my house I was like, “Holy s–t!” I loved watching her annihilate the Olympics. I had to pinch myself. I was so excited to share a stage with her.
Simone Biles: I did an interview where they asked who I’d want my partner to be, and I said, “Sasha!” Then it was him, and I was like, “Hallelujah!”
Us: As a pair, what was the hardest challenge you faced?
SB: I think it was bringing out my emotional side, because I’ve never had to do that before. If I was emotional, it was behind closed doors. Now, it’s in front of all of America. It’s scary.
SF: Her entire life she’s been told to hide that emotion. She’s very dedicated, but to achieve her goals, I feel like she’s blocked off pretty much the whole world. She’s 20 years old, yet she’s still a little girl.
Us: How did you take the judges’ criticism and learn from their tips?
SB: It’s hard to hear. But we always tried to go back into practice and really work on what they’ve told us.
SF: Seeing this little girl heartbroken was the hardest part. The only thing that I could do was pick up the pieces, stick them together and make sure she remembered why she’s doing this. I reminded her this is a reality show and you’ve got to have fun.
Us: When did you see yourself getting the most frustrated?
SB: I hated the first day when we learned a new dance. That’s just horrible. You feel like you’re getting nowhere!
SF: It’s a new concept, a new story. We didn’t have time to dwell on the happiness. We went into the next thing.
Us: Simone, have you seen your body evolve since you started dancing?
SB: It looks different than my gymnastics body because I haven’t been working out. Dance helps keep me in shape, but I’ve lost my six-pack. I’m not as toned. I think I just lost a little muscle definition.
Us: Best part about taking time off from gymnastics?
SB: My life is just a little more freeing. I’ve gone indoor skydiving, cliff jumping and horseback riding. I’m eating whatever I want!
Us: How important was it for you to add a mirrorball to your trophy case?
SF: It would have been a huge deal! I really wanted Simone to take that mirrorball trophy home and put it up there with her medals. At the same time, I wanted her to enjoy this experience.
SB: I just wanted to learn more about myself through this competition. If I won, it’s cool. But if I didn’t, there’s still so much I can take away.
Us: Simone, what has this experience taught you about yourself?
SB: That I need to speak up more and that I can be hard on myself. I’m more confident in the gym because I’m in my element. I’m trying to find that same confidence outside.
Us: What’s your post-DWTS plan?
SB: I’m going to take some time off and just relax. I’m going on two vacations, so I’m excited.
SF: I need to plan a wedding. We don’t have a date, but we do have a destination: either England, Australia or America. That’s a start, right?
Dancing With The Stars airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. EST.
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