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Spotlight on Meryl Davis and Maks Chmerkovskiy from 'DWTS'

Meryl Davis is partnered with Maks for the new season of "DWTS."
Meryl Davis is partnered with Maks for the new season of "DWTS."

Rehearsals are in full swing as the new slate of celebrities prepare for the first night of competition on “Dancing with the Stars.” Because the premiere is rapidly approaching, it’s a great time to look at each of the couples from season 18, including Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who returns to “DWTS” after a two-season absence.

Paired in 1997, Meryl Davis and her partner Charlie White are the longest-running ice dancing partnership in the history of United States figure skating. As a child, Davis wished to glide atop the frozen surface of the Michigan Lake adjacent to her home, so learning to ice skate at the age of five was a natural choice. They are 2014 Olympic Gold Medalists, 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists and 2011 & 2013 World Champions. Davis and White are also six-time (2009-2014) U.S. Champions, and five-time (2001-2013) Grand Prix Final Champions.

Led by one of the most successful coaching teams in the world, Meryl and Charlie steadily climbed the ranks in the U.S. and international ice dancing world. In 2006, they made their senior debut on the Grand Prix Series. They dominated the international skating scene this season, standing atop the podium at all six competitions they entered. By winning the 2013 World Championships, the team made figure skating history, becoming the only U.S. ice dancing team to ever win two World titles. The second title cemented their place in figure skating history and positioned them as the team to beat at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

When not on the ice, Davis enjoys reading, traveling and learning about other cultures. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan. To see Meryl talk about competing with Maks on "DWTS," head to this YouTube link.

After a two-season absence from the ballroom, Maksim Chmerkovskiy returns, much to the delight of his passionate fans. At an early age, he aspired to be an Olympic swimmer or soccer player. Maks turned to dance in his teenage years, but was sidelined after a terrible skiing accident, which resulted in severe leg injuries and a hospitalization that stretched into months. He underwent many surgeries and doctors predicted that he had a high chance of being handicapped for the remainder of his life.

Hearing this, Maks was adamant in proving them wrong. He began rigorous physical therapy and dedicated months of his time to healing. Before long, the dedicated dancer was back in great shape and returned to his passion - dancing. Because of that experience, Maksim learned the importance of dedication and desire to succeed.

Maks and his brother Val moved with their parents to America, overcoming financial and language barriers along the way. Both brothers continued to dance and made a huge impact on the world of dance. Maks is a renowned choreographer, successful business owner, and a national TV celebrity.

In addition to Meryl Davis, Maks Chmerkovskiy has also partnered with the following celebrities on “Dancing with the Stars”:

  • Tia Carrere in season two (6th place)
  • Willa Ford in season three (7th place)
  • Laila Ford in season four (3rd place)
  • Melanie Brown in season five (2nd place)
  • Misty May-Treanor in season seven (10th place)
  • Denise Richards in season eight (12th place)
  • Debi Mazar in season nine (12th place)
  • Erin Andrews in season ten (3rd place)
  • Brandy in season eleven (4th place)
  • Kirstie Alley in season twelve (2nd place)
  • Hope Solo in season thirteen (4th place)
  • Melissa Gilbert in season fourteen (5th place)
  • Kirstie Alley in season fifteen (7th place)

The 18th season of “Dancing with the Stars” premieres on Monday, March 17 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. This year, Erin Andrews, sportscaster and past competitor, joins Tom Bergeron as co-host. The biggest news of all is a brand new twist. The celebrities must change partners mid-season, with America voting on the new teams.

Below are this season’s competitors and their pro partners, all hoping to take home a mirror ball trophy in 2014.

  1. Sean Avery: Former pro hockey player. Partner: Karina Smirnoff.
  2. Candice Cameron Bure: DJ Tanner from “Full House.” Partner: Mark Ballas.
  3. Drew Carey: Stand-up comic and host of “The Price Is Right.” Partner: Cheryl Burke.
  4. Meryl Davis: Gold medal Olympic ice dancer. Partner: Maks Chmerkovskiy.
  5. NeNe Leakes: Actress from “TRHOA,” “Glee” and “The New Normal.” Partner: Tony Dovolani.
  6. James Maslow: Star of TV series “Big Time Rush” and member of band of the same name. Partner: Peta Murgatroyd.
  7. Danica McKellar: Winnie Cooper from “The Wonder Years.” Partner: Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
  8. Diana Nyad: First person to swim from Cuba to Florida. Partner: Henry Byalikov.
  9. Amy Purdy: Dual amputee and competitor in Sochi Paralympics. Partner: Derek Hough.
  10. Cody Simpson: Popular pop star with a huge fan base. Partner: Witney Carson.
  11. Charlie White: Gold medal Olympic ice dancer. Partner: Sharna Burgess.
  12. Billy Dee Williams: Legendary leading man. Partner: Emma Slater.

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