Amy Purdy talks Derek Hough, Mark Ballas and 'Dancing with the Stars'

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. On this week's show, each celebrity had to switch pro partners for one week. Purdy talked about Week 4 of the competition, in an email Q&A.

You switched from Derek Hough to Mark Ballas this week. How would you compare the two?

They are very, very different, which I noticed the moment Mark and I first began to dance. Derek is a very strong leader and Mark is more relaxed, it made me realize how much I was relying on Derek for stability. If I was ever slightly off balance, I always felt that I could push off of Derek, I could lean on his solid base for support. Mark is more fluid, more continuously in motion as he dances. While this gives him great flow through movements, at first I found this to be the big change. Also, Derek tends to teach details from the start and Mark adds them towards th end. both are great styles just different. Mark and Derek both really push me and that's what I want. Mark truly is amazing, we had a lot of fun dancing together all week, I truly enjoyed our time together!

Were you a dancer before the show started?

I certainly would not have called myself a dancer before the show, but I have always loved to dance and being on this show has deepened that love beyond anything I could have imagined. I really, really want to continue to dance after the show ends so if anyone reading his has any opportunities for me to keep doing that speak up … I’m all ears!

It looks like Meryl Davis is an unstoppable train, chugging to victory. What are you going to have to do to beat her and take home the Mirror Ball Trophy?

I have no clue — she’s stunning! I’m leaning on my fans to vote-vote-vote. She's a professional dancer so she is putting us all on our toes. In snowboarding I’ve always looked at really strong competitors through a lens of gratitude, rather than envy in the sense that the better my competition is the more if forces me to work hard, focus and be better myself if I want to succeed, which I do. I’ve said this many times, but it always bears repeating. I can’t control Meryl or NeNe or any of my competitors, so it’s kind of pointless to spend too much time thinking about them or anything I can’t control. What I can control is how well I dance and how hard I work so that’s what I try to stay focused on.

When you combine last week's scores with this week, you are in third place. How does that compare to your expectations coming in to the competition?

Coming into the competition I had very, very little time to prepare and was trying to do so while I was competing in the Paralympics in Russia, so to be honest coming in I was just trying to get through the first week and not be the first dancer sent home! Now that I’ve been here a few weeks the fire is definitely burning to stay here as long as I can. I’ll take third for now, but I’m in it to win it!

You can vote online all day Tuesday, so vote-vote-vote.

You can follow Amy Purdy at her website, on Instagram/Twitter: @AmyPurdyGurl and on Facebook. And you can watch a video to see of how Amy prepared for the Paralympics.

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