Photo courtesy Disney on Ice
The rain is the most obvious reminder Kurtis Hori is home.
“For sure,” laughs the young Richmondite, who performs for the first time in front of family and friends in the Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart tonight through Sunday at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum.
“Being back home is surreal,” says Hori, 24, who is part of an ensemble of skaters portraying many different Disney characters.
“It’s a nice change of pace.”
Having loved Disney “my entire life,” (his favourite character is Stitch, the lovable “dog” which in reality is a genetic experiment from an alien planet adopted by a Hawaiian girl named Lilo), Hori joined the cast of Disney on Ice three years ago. It’s been a whirlwind ever since.
“I get to experience a new place and perform for a new audience every week. It’s a real blast,” he says. “New York City is great because you feel like you’re in the big time and the audiences are super lively.”
And when he’s not performing, Hori also enjoys being a tourist and checking out the landmarks that make each stop unique.
The downside of being on the road 10 months of the year is having to live out of a suitcase, and doing your own cooking and laundry. As a result, sandwiches, and eggs, have become a staple.
Inspired by his friends who were skating, Hori joined Richmond’s Connaught Skating Club at the age of five and quickly showed a proficiency for the sport. He went on to compete at multiple Canadian championships, and successfully landed all the triple rotation jumps. But he also enjoyed, and demonstrated a flare, for performing.
“I always looked up to Alexei Yagudin,” he says of the former Russian skater who he calls the “ultimate performer.” Yagudin won four world championships and later skated with Stars on Ice.
Performing in multiple exhibition galas, including at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games figure skating closing gala, also helped prepare Hori for what was to come.
“My goal is to stay and perform for Disney on Ice for a while, and after become a skating coach,” he says. “My role model is my lifelong skating coach Kevin Bursey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. I’ve always looked to him for advice and always will.”
His advice to those following his footsteps is to “keep skating and enjoying what you love.”