ET's Lauren Zima recently spoke with the 47-year-old ice skater and her pro partner, Sasha Farber, during rehearsals for the hit ABC dance show's upcoming season. Harding said she's ready to give the competition her all.
"This is truly a memorable moment for me, being able to be asked for one thing, because you have to be nominated and I was just ... so thrilled and honored to be part of this, and I'm going to give it my all," Harding told ET. "It has been 27 years basically since I've been at the Olympics and in front of judges, and this stepping out is going to be the same thing. I'm glad I get to see it first and feel like, 'Oh my god, we're at the Olympics and start over, and go (takes deep breath) OK ... breathe.'"
"Well, because I got the last thing taken away from me, and no one got to see anything after that," Harding said, referring to the abrupt end to her figure skating career after she was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association following the 1994 Olympic Games. "The only thing they've ever seen is me in an interview, and it's so black and white -- there's no gray, there's no pink, there's no purple -- there's nothing. And it's just kind of blah, and so this is like my second chance of coming out and being able to perform not only for myself, but for all my fans that have been there for so long."
"And I know there are some people out there that don't like me and that's OK," she added. "But I just want to show them I'm a human being; I have feelings, and I'm here to try and do the best I can for myself and for my partner. I don't want to let him down."
Meanwhile, Harding compares DWTS to the Olympics, saying that "stepping out is going to be the same thing" and that she's glad she gets to "start over."
"I got the last thing taken away from me,' she says."This is my second miracle. My first miracle, of course, was my son."
Despite Harding's professional figure skating background, she says ballroom dancing is definitely a big challenge for her.
"Trust me, it is nothing like I have ever done before," she admitted. "The toes, the head, the hands. I mean, I finally got the hands right when I'm skating and now I can't use those. I have to change everything to the dance hands, the dance face."
But clearly, Harding's competitive nature is 100 percent intact. The former athlete considers her biggest competition this season to be herself.
"I think I am my biggest competition, my biggest competition is me," she said bluntly. "And making sure that I don't embarrass [Farber] ... trip him or anything like that. I just want to go out and be the best that we can be."
As far as how she wants audiences to perceive her on DWTS, she said she wants people to see "that I am real. That I'm human. I may say that it doesn't bother me here or care what people say, but it does.
"It truly does hurt but there's gonna be always those people who don't believe or don't care about that and that's okay with me," she expressed. "That's OK."
DWTS' all-athlete season premieres Monday, April 30 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.