By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Dozens of fantasy characters will celebrate “100 Years of Magic” when “Disney on Ice” opens Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center.

One of the skaters is no stranger to Pittsburgh’s icy winters.

Stephanie Clark of McDonald spent many years practicing at the Southpointe Iceoplex. It paid off when the Slippery Rock graduate auditioned successfully for the Disney team.

“My heart started beating really fast and my hand started shaking and I got really excited,” Stephanie recalls. “And the first person I called was my dad. I said, ‘I got it, I got it.’ I was so excited. It was definitely a dream come true.”

Her parents have been with her all the way.

In early competitions, she recalls, “I’d get to my spot. I’d do a little circle, take a deep breath, and at the very end I’d hear ‘Go Peanut!’ from my dad in the stands, and then I would start my program.”

Stephanie was just two weeks away from her fifth birthday, when she first laced up the skates and stepped on the ice at Southpointe. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight.

“I was like, crying,” she says. “I didn’t want to leave my parents. I didn’t want to step out on the ice. I was so scared.”

But once she got out there, she says, “I fell in love with it.”

She also fell in love with her new career.

“It’s breathtaking,” she says with a smile. “I absolutely love seeing all the little children around the ice dressed up in their favorite costumes, some of them are holding up signs. And they get so excited, they start waving and jumping up and down when we come by them. I can honestly say it hasn’t sunk in yet.”

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