Fond memories! Melissa Rycroft not only won Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars in 2012, but she also found a lifelong friend in her partner, Tony Dovolani.
“This season I’ve started posting, like, flashback videos every time that Dancing With the Stars is on and I tag him and then we’ll just start talking, like, ‘Oh man, we were good,’” the Bachelor alum, 37, exclusively told Us Weekly on Wednesday, November 18, while discussing Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. “I forgot how much fun we had. I mean, I love — it’s an arranged marriage for Tony and I. It was seven months ‘cause we did it twice.”
The reality star first competed on season 8 of Dancing With the Stars in 2009, placing third with the professional dancer. The duo returned three years later for the All-Stars season and won against fellow finalists Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough and Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy.
“We’re lucky that we got along the way we did because there’s nobody else that goes through an experience like that,” Rycroft said. “And if you don’t have a good partner that you can lean on, you’re not going to do well in the competition. And Tony, for me, was like my saving grace and amazing. And yeah, he’s a buddy for life.”
She pointed out that, much like a marriage, her relationship with Dovolani, 47, had its ups and downs. “You get strong bonds and friendships, but you also get really frustrated with each other too,” the former Bachelor Pad host recalled. “When you are with a stranger and you’re both heightened and stressed and maxed out, that’s where sometimes you get some of the biggest fights ever because you’re like, ‘I have nobody else to talk to but you.’ But, I mean, you have to trust the professional that they know what they’re doing and the professional has to trust you as well. And if you can have that respect, I mean, you’ve seen the friendships and there’s some relationships that have come out of it.”
Rycroft has, of course, been rooting for former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe during season 29. “Kaitlyn has done great,” she told Us. “I look back at the Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants and we kind of rock on Dancing With the Stars. I mean, more wins than misses but I think she’s done great. I love her and [partner] Artem [Chigvintsev] as a couple.”
While Bristowe, 35, vies for the mirrorball trophy, Rycroft is resuming her role on Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, which debuts on CMT later this month. The premiere will be simulcast on sister network MTV too.
“I think it’s fun every year going, we get to just keep making this team better and better,” the former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader said. “I’ve been involved with this team for almost 20 years. I have to say it is special to me. And so the fact that I get to keep coming back and working with the new generation of girls is really exciting.”
Season 15 of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team premieres on CMT Tuesday, November 24, at 10 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi