Ka­rina Smirnoff

Oxygen - - Thrive -

Oxy­gen: Did you do any sports be­sides dance?

Ka­rina: When I was small, I did fig­ure skat­ing, but I hated be­ing cold! I also did gym­nas­tics and bal­let, but fi­nally I set­tled on danc­ing when I was about 9. Today, I do all kinds of things in ad­di­tion to dance, such as Bikram yoga, SoulCy­cle and mar­tial arts. I am a fan of all kinds of move­ment.

O: Have you ever had is­sues with weight?

K: We moved to the United States from the Ukraine when I was 14 and I quickly gained 15 pounds! I could not get enough bananas and Frosted Flakes. We didn’t have bananas in the Ukraine — they were a del­i­cacy, and once in a blue moon when I got one, I would make it last for hours. And of course, there were no Frosted Flakes! Hence, 15 ex­tra pounds. But once I started danc­ing again a few years later when we could af­ford it, I lost the weight.

O: Is the mir­ror­ball tro­phy from Danc­ing With the Stars as cool as it looks?

K: Mine is! The first few sea­sons it was just a Sty­ro­foam ball with lit­tle mir­rors glued onto it — which I hear even­tu­ally started fall­ing off! But the one J.R. [Martinez] and I won is super heavy and rock solid. They fig­ured out how to make them right af­ter a cou­ple of years!

O: What did you cook on Chopped that won you the show?

K: It was veni­son be­lieve it or not! I didn’t even know what veni­son was — when I opened the pack­age, I thought it was liver! I de­cided to cook it like a high­class steak: I cut it into medal­lions and sea­soned them with salt and pep­per. Then I heated some oil in a pan and seared the meat on both sides. Then I added but­ter and cooked the meat slowly in the pan with its juices so it was super ten­der. It was per­fectly cooked, the judges said, and I was able to give $10,000 to City of Hope. O: You wrote a book — what was it about?

K: (laughs) Yes, it is called Dat­ing Dis­as­ters From the Trenches, and it is meant to be a girl’s way of look­ing at dat­ing and laugh­ing at your own mis­takes. I mean, dat­ing shouldn’t be a chore, but it re­ally is for a lot of peo­ple — my­self in­cluded! This book is a hu­mor­ous ac­count of my own and my friends’ dat­ing dis­as­ters, to which any girl who has ever dated can re­late.

O: What was your worst on­stage disaster?

K: When I was on DWTS with Billy Ray Cyrus as my part­ner, we were danc­ing the cha-cha to his song called I Want My

Mul­let Back. I de­cided to be funny and wear a mul­let wig, and at the end, I was sup­posed to drop into a split and he was sup­posed to yank it off my head like, I

got my mul­let back! Ge­nius, right? But un­for­tu­nately, it was pinned on a lit­tle too well and he yanked up on it sev­eral times so hard that he ac­tu­ally lifted me off the floor! I had to slap his arm away and un­pin the wig in or­der to give it to him so he had his mul­let back. I’m sure you can find that on YouTube some­where!

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