What was the first thing that went through Apolo Anton Ohno's mind when he learned he might be paired with Karina Smirnoff on Dancing with the Stars All-Stars?
"I went, 'Hmm. She's amazing, but isn't she really crazy?' I really did say that," Ohno tells TVGuide.com. "And the best part is, this was the exact answer: 'Yes, but she has a heart of gold and she's amazing. And we think you two will have really great chemistry.'"
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke
Smith and Burke won Season 3.Smirnoff says: Emmitt is gonna be in this competition until the very end. He's got the biggest fan base that you can possibly think of. ... Everyone loves him and he did amazing when he won. All 12 are couples to beat, but they are definitely one of the top ones. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani
The Bachelor alum was a last-minute replacement for an injured Nancy O'Dell and finished third on Season 8 with Dovolani.Smirnoff says: Melissa can dance really well. She's a natural. And she's gorgeous. I've known Tony since I was, like, 16 years old and he's great. Do we like them? Yes, on a personal level. No, on a competitive level! I wish they were mean so we could actually hate them!Bristol Palin and Mark BallasProbably the most controversial cast member, Palin finished third on Season 11 with Ballas.Ohno says: She's totally different now. I think it'll surprise people.Smirnoff says: No matter what people say — like maybe Bristol wasn't the best dancer, but she was the most improved dancer of that season. So on this show, there's the likability factor, the skill, but also the journey. Who has the biggest journey, the biggest arc of learning how to dance? I think Bristol had it. I'm excited to see what she does now. She had some memorable dances — the monkey dance. Some people can pull that off.Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya The 98 Degrees singer won Season 2 with Burke, and Trebunskaya has been runner-up twice, including to Lachey.Ohno says: Drew's gonna do well. He's hungry, I can tell, and I love it. I love the competitiveness. I'm looking forward to seeing what he's got. He didn't do as much [dancing in 98 Degrees], but he's won this.Smirnoff says: Anna's a fantastic teacher, so Drew's in great hands. Drew had one of the most memorable freestyles on the show. If we take Drew out before the final in the back alley of CBS [Studios, where the show films], that might help us. Shawn Johnson and Derek HoughJohnson won Season 8 with Ballas, and Hough is a three-time champ.Ohno says: The only other people who have experienced this intense type of competition with this kind of training are Shawn and Emmitt. ... I love Shawn. She dances incredibly. She's kind of like Joey. She learns dances really fast.Smirnoff says: She does. Why don't you learn them really fast?Ohno says: I don't know. I'm just pounding the fish.Kirstie Alley and Maksim ChmerkovskiyThe pair finished second on Season 12.Ohno says: I think Kirstie and Maks are an underdog. They were their first season too. I don't think a lot of people predicted at the beginning for them to go that far and I'm not gonna underestimate them. Pamela Anderson and Tristan MacManusAnderson finished sixth on Season 10 with Damian Whitewood, and MacManus placed fifth with Nancy Grace on Season 13.Ohno says: That's a very interesting pair. I think Pam was another one who went further than some expected. Sixth place is kind of deep. She's got a good shot.Sabrina Bryan and Louis van AmstelBryan finished seventh on Season 7 with Ballas, and van Amstel finished in third place on Season 9 with Kelly Osbourne.Smirnoff says: The rumor is that they look really strong. And they only found out they were on the show three weeks ago [from the fan vote]. Ohno says: Sabrina's like a pro dancer. They're on their 11th dance. She's on next season's. She and Joey were on the tour and Vegas, so they also have that advantage.
Helio Castroneves and Chelsie Hightower
Castroneves won Season 5 with Hough, and Hightower finished fourth on Season 8 with Ty Murray.
Ohno says: I talked to him the other day and he's been pushing it really hard. He's another athlete competitor. One thing that surprised me is he's a lot skinnier than I thought. I didn't know he was that skinny. His legs were really skinny.
Smirnoff says: I think Helio lost weight. But you sound jealous.
Ohno says: My legs are huge. I feel seams ripping. My jeans ripped one day.
Smirnoff says: They did rip. [And there was] no other piece of clothing underneath the jeans. That is disturbing.
Ohno says: That's not disturbing; it's efficient. It's eco-friendly. Fewer clothes to wash, less water to use.
Dancing: Sabrina Bryan wins viewers' choice spot
Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy
Monaco won Season 1 with Alec Mazo, and Chmerkovskiy finished 10th last season with Sherri Shepherd.
Smirnoff says: She was the very first champion we've ever had and that commands respect. I think she almost has the most to prove because the show was so different then.
Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd
Marini finished second on Season 8 with Burke, and Murgatroyd won last season with Donald Driver.
Ohno says: Gilles is taking this seriously, like really, really seriously. ... When I saw him, I couldn't believe it. I'm not scared — don't get me wrong — but I was just like, "Wow!" He's one of the best celebrities who's ever done the show.
And how about that final pair?
Ohno says: The guy with the squirrel tail on his chin? What's his name? He's a figure skater or something?
Smirnoff says: Yeah, Anton something. He might be OK. He might be accustomed to a lot of spandex because that's what he wears in his profession too — really, really tight. I think he should shave his head. The past three winners were bald guys and the only bald guy this season is Emmitt. I think, why jinx it? ... I also want him to be an orangutan with a red butt. Maybe just the butt part.
Ohno says: I don't even think this is related to the show. It's her personal fantasy. She's got a weird deal.
Dancing with the Stars premieres Monday at 8/7c on ABC.