I am 27, and I am currently a resident of Jefferson City, Missouri. I lived in the Denver area starting at age 2, and Centennial from age 16 to 25.
My mom had always loved ice skating as a girl, and so she would take me and my siblings skating when we were young as a fun family activity that we could all do together. Eventually, she signed us up for lessons, and at the age of 8, I started really learning to ice skate. I learned the basics of skating and then went into playing hockey, which I really enjoyed, and still enjoy very much today.
I first began figure skating at the age of 14 after pursuing hockey for several years. I switched from hockey because I was a competitive sibling and thought I could be better than my sisters.
‘Out of my shell’
The thing that started my love of performing actually had nothing to do with skating — it was through speech and debate. I competed in debate for three years in high school, but my senior year, one of the other students convinced me to do an interpretive speech with her. It was an experience that really forced me to come out of my shell, and through it, I discovered that acting and bringing characters to life was a challenge that was thoroughly enjoyable.
After high school, I attended Arapahoe Community College for two years to be able to continue training, and throughout this time I competed in the pairs discipline of the United States Figure Skating competitive pipeline. Three times I competed in one of the three sectional championships that are held across the U.S., and twice I was fortunate enough to advance from them to the national championships at my level.
South Suburban memories
I skated in many amateur shows during this time as well … The best show to skate in though was “Showtime On Ice,” a production of the Denver Colorado Figure Skating Club, held at the (former) South Suburban Ice Arena.
Every spring, they put on (a large) amateur ice show … with a cast of kids and adults sometimes 200 strong, featuring everyone from tots barely able to skate, to Olympians in guest performances. It is a show that every kid at that rink spends all year looking forward to, and it brings so much joy to both the skaters and the parents who get to watch them fall in love with performing under the spotlights.
Every year, I was able to learn something new about performing from the amazing directors and coaching staff they had, and it bred and solidified my desire to perform professionally one day.
Left a mark
One of the greatest influences on my performances is Sally Smith, the Denver Colorado Figure Skating Club’s beloved performance coach. She is one of those people that is always pushing you to be better, no matter how good you already are, and does so in a way that made skating more fun for me. Through her lessons, I was prepared with the skills necessary to be a successful professional performer.
Coming to Disney
“Disney On Ice” is a well-known destination in the figure skating world for people who want to continue their careers beyond their time in the competitive scene, and any skater can send in a video showcasing their skills to the talent director. I was fortunate enough to meet the talent director in person at a competition and then attended an in-person audition, after which I was offered a position in the company.
This (current) show, “Dream Big,” is all about dreaming and setting those big goals for yourself. One of my favorite segments of the show is “The Princess and the Frog” because Tiana takes that message of dreaming big and isn’t afraid to work to make her dreams come true!
Behind the scenes
I also sharpen all the performers’ skates on the show. I spent several years working at a pro shop in the old South Suburban Ice Arena, honed my sharpening skills there and now I get to travel the world while I sharpen skates for many incredible skaters.
If you would like to suggest someone for My Name Is …, or if you would like to be featured in the segment, contact Ellis Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-566-4109.