Three hours before Thursday's opening of "Disney on Ice" at the Xcel Energy Center, about a dozen figure skaters dressed in all-black warm-up clothes gracefully zipped across the ice, practicing jumps and partner routines for their first Minnesota performance.
Skater Olivia Oltmanns, who hails from Shakopee, Minn., explained how each week on the crew's nine-month-long tour brings a new city — and new ice to be explored and conquered. Performers must adjust their routines to rinks of various sizes and shapes.
"Warming up and keeping our bodies healthy is super important with our unique lifestyles on the road," Oltmanns said.
And if that doesn't sound like enough stress, Oltmanns is the star of the show, portraying the character Elsa from "Frozen" — the 2013 Disney film that remains a global phenomenon.
Oltmanns looks the part; she's tall, elegant and strong, with slightly darker blonde hair than Elsa's signature icy locks.
"It's definitely a challenge," Oltmanns said. "There's a lot of pressure on me, for sure, because I want to do that role justice. There are so many little kids — you'll see them in the audience, all wearing an Elsa dress and screaming Elsa's name, so it's so important for me to really put my all out there. ... That is a lot of pressure, honestly. But their response is what kind of pushes me forward and gives me more energy."
Oltmanns is one of a few Minnesotans on the tour. She said she's been preparing for a role like this since she was little, following her mother around the rink at the Shakopee Community Center just about 45 minutes southwest of St. Paul. Oltmanns started skating when she was 2 years old.
"My mother is actually a figure-skating coach. ... so it kind of runs in the family," she said. "I was kind of just a little rink rat running around, always at the rink, and luckily I fell in love with it myself."
Oltmanns left Shakopee High School after her freshman year and started online schooling so she could pursue professional figure skating. At 17, she landed the role of Elsa in "Disney on Ice."
She has toured the world for the past four years, but this weekend's shows are her first in Minnesota.
"To finally be playing home is really, really exciting," Oltmanns said before Thursday's opening performance. "My best friend from home is coming tonight, and my mom and some of her little students. It's great to see young skaters coming out to see the show (and) being so interested in it. ... I'm a little nervous, but it's exciting."
Oltmanns nailed her debut Thursday night, and she'll have three more chances to perform at nearly sold-out shows in St. Paul this weekend before continuing on tour for about six more months.