updated 11/08/2013 AT 8:55 PM ET
•originally published 11/11/2013 AT 12:30 PM ET
Karina Smirnoff is a former Dancing with the Stars champion, winning the coveted mirror-ball trophy in season 13 with J.R. Martinez. The longtime competitor is blogging for PEOPLE.com about competing with former High School Musical star Corbin Bleu in season 17.
I’ve been drinking four espressos in the morning and it’s not working. I am literally dragging myself. Mentally, I’m awake to comprehend what’s going on, but physically, my body is like, I don’t think so. These days, once you power through, you feel better.
We didn’t necessarily predict Amber [Riley] and Derek [Hough] would get a 10, but we kind of joked, “Oh, and now the last couple is dancing.” We had a feeling the leader board was going to change. When the judges gave that 10, we all kind of started laughing because we knew that was going to happen.
We truly enjoyed the dance-off. We knew we wanted to be up against Val [Chmerkovskiy] and Elizabeth [Berkley]. We’re close friends, and we all wanted to do the cha cha, so it really worked out.
This week we have two dances. One is a trio round. We’re doing jazz in that round and we chose Whitney from the troupe. We’re so, so stoked about it. Every time we’ve loved a dance and gotten positive comments on Instagram, the judges have always said, “Oh, it’s not my cup of tea.” So we’re afraid to get too excited, but we are definitely somewhat excited.
Whitney knows jazz. She knows it from Dancing with the Stars and also So You Think You Can Dance. The three of us love our number and we’re just praying the judges like it, too.
The whole season is bittersweet because even if we go all the way to the end, we only have less than three weeks to go. We keep thinking about it during rehearsals. We’re like, aw, that sucks. It feels like it’s been on for a year, but at the same time, everything goes boom-boom-boom and then it’s done.