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Hamill set to take on 'different sort of adventure'

Olympic champion hopes to continue successful run of skaters on Dancing with the Stars

Expectations are high for Dorothy Hamill on this season of <i>Dancing with the Stars</i>.
Expectations are high for Dorothy Hamill on this season of Dancing with the Stars. (Getty Images)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(02/28/2013) - When the call came offering Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill a spot on season 16 of Dancing with the Stars (DWTS), she had only about 48 hours to decide.

"I didn't have a long time to justify reasons to or not to," she said. "I'm thrilled. I've always wanted to learn how to dance properly. I've always loved dance and watching dance."

Admittedly excited and nervous, Hamill, 56, said she's a longtime fan of DWTS.

"It will be fun. It will be a different sort of adventure. It's been a fun show for me to watch over the years," said Hamill, whose partner is Tristan MacManus. "I really love seeing all the various celebrities getting out there doing something that they don't have any experience with and taking on a challenge in front of a whole lot of people.

"I've been a fan of the show and thought it would be so much fun to do," she added. "I've been so impressed by the actors and the musicians and various celebrities -- they have this life-changing experience. To me, it's a lot of what ice skating and performing in a company are like: You become this family."

Hamill was glued to the set when Kristi Yamaguchi competed on season 6, but she wasn't able to be there in person, as she was recovering from breast cancer surgery.

"It was really inspiring for me because I was such a fan of the show and, of course, loving Kristi, it sort of made my world. It was something I really looked forward to watching," Hamill said.

She was able to attend a show live in California when Evan Lysacek competed on season 10.

Performing live is nothing new to Hamill, but she said that wasn't a deciding factor when she signed on for DWTS. She said she's certainly taken her share of falls in front of audiences, so that is not her biggest fear.

"For me, the biggest fear is figuring out which direction my feet are going, trying to remember steps and trying not to race to the other side of the dance floor on one foot," she said. "In skating, you want to take one glide and be 200 feet down the ice."

Based on the success Yamaguchi and Lysacek had on DWTS (Yamagichi won the mirror ball trophy, while Lysacek finished runner-up), the bar is set high for Hamill. She finds those expectations more than a little daunting.

"The good news is I've been able to move with music," she added. "It's going to be a real challenge. I'm not as quick, cute and bubbly as Kristi. She can kind of do anything."

This weekend, Hamill is appearing with Stars on Ice in Anaheim and San Jose, Calif., and she expects MacManus will join her so they can get in some dance practice. They know the style of their first dance but are still awaiting their music. She feels the upcoming skating shows will help get her into the performance groove.

"I love the working, the camaraderie with the skaters and the artistry," she said. "That's what makes my soul sing.

"With the dancing, it's going to be the preparation and the work leading up to it that I am just going to love."

The new season of DWTS premieres March 18 on ABC.