Apolo Ohno has already earned the title of most-decorated U.S. winter Olympian and he is currently on a quest to become the most-decorated Dancing with the Stars contestant. The eight-time Olympic speedskating medalist won his first mirror ball trophy on Season 4 of the hit television series and more than five years later he has returned for Season 15, the series’ first all-star season.
Improving on his score each week, Ohno has made it through to the fourth week of the season, along with Season 8 champion and Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson and seven other all-stars. Team USA fans submitted their questions for Ohno via Facebook and Twitter, and he took the time to answer them in the midst of his intense dancing schedule.
The live performance shows air Monday nights on ABC at 8 p.m. ET, with results shows airing Tuesday nights. Fans can vote for Ohno online or by calling 1-800-868-3407.
TeamUSA.org asks: How is your next dance coming?
My dance partner, Karina [Smirnoff], she can dance every single other form of dance except for hip hop. And our dance is hip hop this week. It should be interesting.
TeamUSA.org asks: Last week they threw in a new twist where contestants chose which dance other couples would do for this week. Will hip hop hurt or help you?
We had a friend come in and show her what hip hop is all about. Personally I think our routine is going to be amazing. It’ll be one of our better ones, for sure. We’re doing stuff that they’ve never seen on the show in the past 15 seasons. That’s the important part.
@LACarverRX on Twitter asks: Would you ever consider becoming a professional dancer and giving up skating?
No. Ballroom dancing, no. But if you mean like the Jabbawockeez – I’m really close to some of the guys from the Jabbawockeez group who perform in Vegas, I think that would be amazing. They get to perform every night of the week for millions of people all around the world. Would I give skating up? If you asked this 10 years ago, no, there’s nothing you could have done to take me away from my Olympic dream.
@BSonTwit on Twitter asks: Do you plan to compete in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games?
I think it’s always a possibility. It’s at the back of my mind; it’s definitely not the forefront. I love the Olympic Games; it’s shown me so many valuable life lessons about myself, about my character. It helped me use my strength from all of my ups and downs in my journey to becoming an Olympic champion. I miss it but we’ll see when that gets closer. 2014 and 2018, they’re both not out of the question.
TeamUSA.org asks: If you decide to commit to training for the 2014 Olympic team, when would you return to training on the ice?
January. There’s no set time. Realistically I should have been on the ice a year ago, but I’ve seen crazier things happen.
If it’s a long-term goal, I think to keep in mind that small progress along the way and small steps and small goals towards reaching the ultimate larger perspective is very important in keeping you hungry, keeping it fresh, keeping it fun; and also to be relentless in your pursuit. As human beings, whatever path that we’re going down, we have no way of knowing what the result’s going to be. Same thing on Dancing with the Stars, I don’t know what the scores the judges give are going to be or how many people at home are gonna vote for me. I can’t really control that, the only thing I can control is how hard you work, how many hours you put in or how dedicated you are to your task.
The ultimate satisfaction comes from within when one person is able to say, "I have left nothing on the table, I have zero regrets about what I’ve done in preparation for this and I can walk away regardless of whatever placement that I had with my head still held very high, proud, I feel strong, and I feel satisfied that I left nothing out there to chance." There’s no worse feeling in the world than someone saying, "I wish I could have trained harder, I should have trained harder, I should have gotten more sleep, I could have, I would have, but I didn’t." That’s a major issue.
I’ve won races before when I wasn’t satisfied because I didn’t do what I need to do. And there’s been races where I didn’t win but the process was so gratifying that it really enhanced my overall perspective of what I was doing. So it’s a very difficult perspective to have on a sport or a goal because ultimately we want to win, we want to be the champions, we want to have the gold medal. We want to have these things in our life but at the end of the day they’re not completely up to us. That’s why I say focus on the process more and enjoy the process more. When the result is there, sometimes that result can only last a very limited amount of time – the Olympic Games, for example. Those four years of hard work, dedication and labor, it boils down to a race that lasts 40 seconds long, and standing on the podium may be another two minutes. You can’t compile four or eight years of your life into that two minutes.
For me, when I think back on my career and think back on the things that I miss the most and the things that I gained, it was those four years when I was dedicated, when nobody else wanted to go outside and train, when it was me against myself, head-to-head battling. That’s what reveals the true nature of a champion – what he does behind closed doors, what he does when the curtain is open. And having that consistency is an amazing, gratifying feeling.
Celia B. on Facebook asks: How does dancing compare with training for the Olympic Games?
I don’t think that from a physical perspective you can compare the two. Obviously training for the Olympic Games in any sport requires a tremendous amount of physical activity and preparation but what it does do is it teaches you and your mind how to adapt to different thing. Let’s be honest here – the rhinestone, glitter, sequin outfits I have to wear are pretty outrageous. So if I can look like I’m confident in that, I can look like I’m confident on the ice if there’s a blade problem.
Judy N. on Facebook asks: What do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Five years from now I still see myself within the Olympic space, within the entertainment space, still running the three businesses that I’m involved with, focusing heavily on the Apolo Anton Ohno Foundation and philanthropic idealism and moving forward with all of the travel and ideas that I’ve always wanted to have in terms of helping give back to kids who are in need both in our country and overseas.
Andrea B. on Facebook said: I enjoyed watching you dance the quickstep. Your footwork in that dance is so fast, precise and artistically performed. Which dance style is your favorite?
I like the more aggressive dances like paso [doble], like tango; samba is cool; freestyle is amazing. And honestly our hip hop routine has so much style, it’s so much fun, has so much personality. I like syncopated dances, so when we’re right next to each other and we’re doing the same thing, I think those look really, really cool.
Andrea B. on Facebook asks: Were you more nervous in your Olympic debut or Dancing with the Stars debut?
In my Olympic debut, I had raced against the same group of guys and I was doing something I had done all my life. Although I was nervous, it wasn’t something that was completely unfamiliar. In my dancing debut, I was dancing to “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” to the cha-cha, doing questionable arm movements. It was very, very weird. I can probably say that I was more nervous for this show than I was for any Olympic race.
Liz M. on Facebook asks: If you could win a gold medal in any other sport, which sport would it be?
I would be the Usain Bolt of track and field, the dominant 100- and 200-meter champ. I think that’s an amazing race to watch. It’s like the highlight of the Games and the race is like 9.5 seconds long.
Marie L. on Facebook asks: What kind of music do you like to listen to and who are your favorite artists?
I love hip hop and house music, sometimes R&B. It depends on what mood I’m in but everything from Usher to Pitbull to Dr. Dre, DJ Tiesto. I listen to everything you hear in a club, everything you hear on the radio and some underground stuff too. It depends on what mood I’m trying to get in to. I use music as an emotional changer. If I go to the gym, I listen to something that’s a little more hard, a little more upbeat. If I’m cruising around and relaxing, I’ll listen to something different. Going out, house music’s going on.
Maura C. on Facebook asks: What does it mean to you to be the most-decorated U.S. winter Olympian?
It’s extremely humbling. When I first started competing for short track, I didn’t know if I was going to make an Olympic team. I did this sport because I loved it, because I had fun. I set small goals along the way, I stayed focused, I tried to work harder than anybody else, and I really dedicated myself to a level that I believed no one else was willing to take themselves to. All of the names and branding, it’s great but at the end of the day, I’m very lucky and blessed to have had such an incredible career and stay healthy along the way.
TeamUSA.org asks: What would fans be most surprised to learn about you?
How goofy I really am. I love to make people laugh, and it’s hard to show through interviews but those who know me and are close to me – we’re always laughing and having fun, always.