The Times is pleased to have Amy Purdy, who won a bronze medal in snowboardcross at the 2014 Paralympics, guest-blogging for us while she competes on "Dancing With the Stars" with pro partner Derek Hough. Here are Purdy's thoughts about Week 2 of the competition, which she offered via email.
Q. In two weeks, you might have to switch partners. I would imagine you don't want to, but if you had to switch to another pro partner, who would you hope for?
You’re right we will be switching and it's not something I'm looking forward to. Derek and I really have a bond and have figured out so much with what I can do with my legs already, so the thought of starting over again with someone new sounds a little challenging. Something I learned from my snowboarding is not to worry about things I can’t control, Derek and I decided that all we can control is our dancing so we are going to just focus on that. I’m just going to keep focused on the partner I do have, as long as I have him. How’s that for a safe answer!
Q. What's it like standing on stage waiting for your name to be called as to whether you are safe or eliminated?
Really challenging but it reminds me that I am in a real competition and if we don't do well we could go home. I was heartbroken to see Diana [Nyad] and Sean [Avery] go home. I have gotten really close with Diana and she is absolutely amazing! She has really inspired both Derek and I with her attitude and perseverance! I know everyone is working so hard and it sure seems like everyone really, really wants to be here. It’s hard to see people get sent home.
Q. There was a bit of talk this week about how some dances will be more difficult for you compared to others. There was even talk of fear that this week's dance could make your prosthesis come off during your routine. How do you block all that out of your mind while dancing?
Those are things that creep into my mind when I’m not dancing, during the downtime, where there’s some time to think about ‘What if this happens or what if that happens?’ But once the music starts it’s go time. It’s like being in the start gate of a snowboarding race. Once I get going it’s just focusing on the task at hand. I think the way you block things out, or at least what works for me, is to try and focus on a few specific things that I know if I do well I’ll have a good performance, be it on the snow or on the dance floor. I try to put my mind someplace constructive … again, putting it on things I have control over.
Q. Which is more physically demanding, snowboard practice or dance practice?
I’m so comfortable on my snowboard that I don’t have to think about it very much, it’s somewhat second nature. So in that sense, the dancing is more challenging because I’m taking on a new challenge so I don’t have that same level of comfort. However they are very similar. I believe my snowboard training has really prepared me for this dancing marathon and something Derek keeps commenting on is how well I memorize moves and retain things, which I think comes from memorizing snowboard courses in little time before a race. From snowboarding my endurance is up; I feel strong and flexible, that’s a huge plus for all of this dancing!
Now I want to give a little shout-out to my Paralympic snowboarding teammates who have been sending me lots of love on the dance floor and ask for your help with something. One of my sponsors, The Hartford, is running a cool campaign that can help fund the team’s future. For everyone who goes to www.WHATDEFINESYOU.com and shares a word about what defines you, they’ll give the team $1 … up to $100,000 is up for grabs … funding our team could really use. Check it out. What defines me? Snowboarder, dancer, actress, model, artist, fashionista, dream chaser... How about you?
You can follow Amy Purdy at her website, amypurdy.com and on Twitter: @AmyPurdyGurl