Suni Lee Dancing With the Stars

Suni Lee Says Dancing With The Stars “Was Harder” Than The Olympics

Season 30 of Dancing with the Stars had it all. The casting of influencer Olivia Jade provided some controversy. Her parents, actress Lori Loughlin and designer Mossimo Giannulli, both served time in jail for their roles in the college admissions bribery scandal. Olivia claimed that her experience taught her that “hard work really does pay off.”

There were rumors that Olivia and her DWTS pro partner, Val Chmerkovskiy were hooking up. Val married fellow pro dancer Jenna Johnson in 2019. Olivia denied that she and Val were anything more than friends. While that seems like an awkward situation, Jenna was unfazed and unbothered by the whispers.

Season 30 also featured some firsts for DWTS. Contestant JoJo Siwa and Jenna were the first same-sex couple to compete for the mirror ball. They brought it every single time they danced.

Actress Melora Hardin spoke up and criticized the judges after her elimination during the semi-finals. “I didn’t feel like [the judges] were judging our performance from who we are, what we came from and how we performed tonight,” Melora stated. “They said all these incredible things [about our dances], but then the scores didn’t match … which was a bit disappointing and upsetting.”

Pro Cheryl Burke and Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby both contracted Covid-19. The couple had to practice via Zoom and even performed a jazz routine remotely from their separate homes. In fact, Cheryl likened this season of DWTS to Survivor.

NBA star Iman Shumpert was one of the biggest surprises of this season. Iman and Daniella Karagach  took home the mirror ball. No one could beat Iman’s infectious spirit in the ballroom and steady improvement as a dancer. JoJo and Jenna claimed second place, while Cody and Cheryl came in third. Amanda Kloots and Alan Bersten, her pro partner, took fourth place.

There was one shocking elimination this season, and that was Olympian Suni Lee. According to Entertainment Weekly, Suni and her partner, Sasha Farber, were cut during the semi-finals. The judges chose to save Amanda and Alan over Suni and Sasha.

Suni was recently honored as athlete of the year at the Sports Illustrated Awards. After all, she competed in the women’s gymnastics all-around finals at the 2021 Olympics and won a gold medal. And she stepped in at the last minute. Legend!

Suni spoke to People at the Sports Illustrated Awards about competing on DWTS. “I don’t think anything will ever compare to the work I put into the Olympics. But I have to say, probably Dancing with the Stars [was harder],” Suni shared.


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“I didn’t expect it to go that way, and when I had to go into the gym every single day — or go into rehearsals, I was like — ‘Why is nothing clicking?’ So, it was definitely harder that way,” Suni remarked.

Suni is the first Asian-American woman to earn a gold medal in the all-around at an Olympics. “It’s definitely an honor, because there are so few Asian-Americans at the Olympics from the United States, so it’s definitely an amazing thing to say that I accomplished,” she stated.

She also gave props to teammate Simone Biles. Simone opted to not compete in several Olympic contests in order to address her mental health. Suni said, “I think she did open the door for the rest of us. It’s a really hard topic for everybody to talk about, but when it’s coming from Simone — the GOAT — everybody knows her and respects her, it must mean a lot.”

Simone is no stranger to the ballroom. She competed on Season 24 of DWTS.  Congratulations to Suni for being chosen Sports illustrated’s athlete of the year!


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[Photo Credit: ABC/Maarten de Boer]