By MIKE CHAIKEN
Disney on Ice skater Kyle Shropshire is living his Disney dream.
As “Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment” makes its way across the country, the Algonquin, Ill. resident gets to play his favorite Disney character, Woody from “Toy Story.”
In a phone interview, Shropshire explained his affinity for “Toy Story” goes way back to his childhood. When he was about 6 years old, he saw the film and he subsequently was given a Woody doll and a Buzz Lightyear doll.
What was it about the toy cowboy that Shropshire enjoyed?
“For me, I liked how he was always a leader. He was smart and brave,” said Shropshire. The Disney on Ice skater also liked how Woody always made it back to Andy’s house. And he always looked out for his friends.
If Shropshire had to pick another Disney character other than Woody as his favorite, he said it would be difficult. “I really genuinely like Woody.”
However, when pressed, Shropshire didn’t veer too far from the “Toy Story” path. He said his favorite character other than Woody is Woody’s partner-in-”Toy Story”-crime, Buzz.
In a way, as a skater, Shropshire is taking up the family business.
Shropshire’s mother, Zane, who comes from Connecticut originally, grew up as a skater. At one time, she also skated with the Ice Capades. Shropshire himself started skating at 2.
Given his mother’s career path, Shropshire said, “My sister and I lived at the rink.” And given the opportunity, he made his way out on the ice and “I loved it.”
Shropshire said he likes skating because of the family connection to the activity. However, he said, he also liked skating because it’s “unique to a lot of sports.”
“It’s really athletic,” he said. But, it’s also a performance.
When you watch a skater on television, Shropshire said he/ she makes it look so easy. However, a lot of time and effort takes place off camera. “There’s always something to learn,” said Shropshire.
Additionally, Shropshire said there are aspects of skating that go unnoticed to the casual observer. For example, most non-skaters are unaware of how thin the blades of a skate are. Since the blades are so thin, to keep your balance, a number of muscle groups come into play. In addition to the leg muscles, he said, core muscles also are engaged.
“It’s a full body sport,” said Shropshire of skating.
Prior to Disney on Ice, Shropshire was a competitive skater. He was a four-time national competitor double gold medalist in moves in the field and freestyle. Besides the competitive aspect of the events, Shropshire said he liked the opportunity to connect with other male skaters, who were at his level of expertise. He also appreciated the pressure of performing before judges, which kept pushing him to get better.
As a skater for Disney on Ice, Shropshire said there is a different kind of pressure, albeit a fun kind. There is the pressure to please an audience, “making the kids laugh and smile.”
“It makes it fun for me,” said Shropshire.
Plus, he said, he gets to play Woody.
Disney on Ice, said Shropshire, is perfect family entertainment because it has “a little something for everyone.”
First of all, he said there are the characters from favorite films such as “Toy Story III,” “Little Mermaid,” “Cars,” and “Frozen.”
Secondly, he said, “We have great effects.”
Additionally, Shropshire said, “(We have) all of your favorite music and songs you can sing along to.”
And “Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment” is a show that brings audiences a lot of joy,” said Shropshire.
“Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment” comes Hartford from Jan. 10 to 13 for seven performances at the XL Center, 1Civic Center Plaza. Tickets start at $15 on select performances. For tickets, visit XLcenter.com or go to the XL Center Box Office.