USMagazine, Thursday, September 20, 2012, 6:30pm (PDT)
It's been three years since Melissa Rycroft first competed on ABC's Dancing With the Stars -- following her stint on The Bachelor -- and is counting down the days until she gets a second shot at the mirrorball trophy on DWTS' All-Stars season.
"In exactly one week, I'll be knee deep in spray tan and sequins," Rycroft, 29, tweeted Monday, one week before season 15 kicks off September 24. "How did it come up this quickly?!? Surreal…!!"
The All-Star installment offers a chance for Rycroft to reunite with her 2009 partner, Tony Dovolani, with whom she placed third during season 15. (Rycroft stepped in as a last-minute replacement for Nancy O'Dell during season 15, when O'Dell withdrew from the competition due to an injury. Rycroft appeared on the premiere having only practiced for two days.)
This time around, Rycroft will have two new faces cheering her on: Husband Tye Strickland and daughter Ava Grace, 19 months. Splitting her time in both Los Angeles and Dallas, Rycroft admits it's a bit harder to fit in practice time with Dovolani with little Ava roaming around.
"It's very different. I've got a baby that I've got to think about and I don't want to practice 12 hours a day like I did before," Rycroft tells Us Weekly of her mindset going into the All-Star season.
Backstage, Rycroft will have the opportunity to bond with the likes of Bristol Palin and Drew Lachey, both of whom also have young children. "We're all right there and they're all about the same age. Maybe they can start a Dancing With the Stars baby playground or something!" Rycroft jokes.
Speaking of Lachey, Rycroft views the former 98 Degrees heartthrob as healthy competition. "I'm anxious to see what Drew, Kelly [Monaco], Pam [Anderson] and Kirstie [Alley have] got," the contestant hints. "It's been a long time but I betcha they're gonna come out with some certain fire that's going to surprise. I'm excited!"