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Local skater, husband having "Road Trip Adventures" with Disney on Ice
Andrea Best and her husband, Paul Prax, had good, steady jobs with Fiat Chrysler America a year ago.
Then they decided to run off — or rather skate off — and join the circus.
The couple are joyfully now part of Disney On Ice and its current show "Road Trip Adventures," which comes to Detroit this week at Little Caesars Arena. Best is a skater, portraying young Nala of "The Lion King," while Prax is on the crew. And, Best, 31, says by phone from the tour's stop in Rosemont, Ill., that they're having a ball.
"It's definitely difficult to maintain the energy, but it's been really fun," says the Howell native and alumnus of the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills. And that comes as a relief, because some people around Best thought she was a little bit nuts to leave FCA for a life of lutzes, salchows, loops, axels, spins and flips.
"Most people were actually very supportive," she reports, "but they were much more supportive once Paul was able to come with me. Most of my friends and family knew I've skated my whole life and this was an opportunity I didn't want to miss out on. It's a little late to be starting this kind of career in general, but I'm happy I can follow this dream and that we can do this together."
Best, who grew up with three brothers, began skating when she was 6 years old, being driven the hour or so to practices at the DSC.
"I just fell in love with it. I excelled at a sport!" she says. The DSC became her "second home," and Best also teamed with one of her brothers for a time in pairs skating. "I love the connection we could have on ice," she says, "and the tricks and the throws and the lifts and the jumps."
Like most young skaters, Best dreamed of going to the Olympics, but a 12th place finish in the pairs competition at the 2010 U.S. National Championships put a lid on that ambition. She instead finished her engineering studies at the University of Michigan and went to work at FCA in Auburn Hills — though she continued to skate, including four seasons with the Harmony Theatre competitive skating company in Hartland.
Best had largely stopped skating before she auditioned for Disney On Ice, but her chops were sharp enough that she won a role and headed to Florida last June for 12 weeks of rehearsal and workshops before "Road Trip Adventures" began its tour. "I still skated several days a week, before I would go to work, and then continued to work out off the ice several days a week to condition my body and get that muscle memory back," she recalls.
Disney On Ice is home now, with her and Prax one of three married couples on the tour. Best isn't sure how long the dream will last, but for now she's living in the moment and happy to be back on ice and skating for an audience again.
"I think I'll go back to engineering at some point," she says, "but I'm not sure quite yet what I'd like to do in the near future. I love skating with Disney On Ice, but I know I won't be able to do it forever because it's so physically demanding. But I'm really enjoying it, so I'm keeping my options open for now."
Disney On Ice's "Road Trip Adventures" runs Thursday, Feb. 13, through Feb. 16 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. Tickets are $15 and up. Call 313-471-7000 or visit 313Presents.com.
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