Santiago said, through touring, he felt like he's grown up a lot, too.
Skating has been good to him. He loves the travel. In the two years he's has been with the show, he's seen a lot of the United States and parts of Canada. He's been to Europe, and last summer, he went to South Africa.
"It was amazing," he said. "It was just one of those places I always wanted to see but never really looked into going there because it's just so far away."
While in South Africa, Santiago said, participants stayed in luxurious hotels, went on wine tours and even took an overnight safari.
"We saw elephants, lions, zebras, rhinoceros, hippos, giraffes -- all the typical animals you'd want to see on an African safari."
Some of the troupe members even went shark diving while they were visiting Cape Town.
"I didn't get to do that one," he said, not sounding particularly disappointed.
Santiago hopes to keep skating for a good, long while, but he's also looking towards the future. He'd love to eventually get into producing ice shows, though he thinks that if he did, his shows would probably be for a slightly more mature audience than what is usually found at a Disney on Ice show.
"I enjoy every aspect of the show," Santiago said. "But it's more geared to children. I'd like to do something more for the grownups."
If he never realizes that dream and eventually has to leave ice skating, Santiago said he had a backup plan. He can always finish school and become an RN.
"I was inspired by my stepmother," he said. "She's an RN at an ICU. I just thought it was an amazing job, and she feels so rewarded by what she does.
"It's similar to how I feel when I perform, the satisfaction of it."
If he couldn't bring smiles to people's faces skating, helping people would be pretty good, too.
"But right now, I'm happy skating."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.