How much it costs to be a professional figure skater?
Being an elite athlete can have great advantages, especially if we look from a perspective of those more media covered sports such as football, basketball, tennis or motors, where sportsmen come to gain dizzying figures. But in “minor” sports the situation is not so easy and rosy, especially when considering enormous costs attached to the road of a professional career. One of those is also figure skating, one of the most popular sports on Winter Olympics, where costs can escalate up to $50,000 and more annually. Where does all the money go? Let’s take a closer look.
The competition equipment
Like in all winter sports, to be an elite figure skater one needs to have specific equipment, starting with acceptable skates, that cost $150 to $300 for a recreational skater, and around $1,000 to $1,500 at the Olympic level. Then there are at least two costumes, plus possibly the one for the gala of the end of the event. At the youth level you can compete with a standard pre-packaged costume, with prices varying around $100, but for international competitions, where the costume goes hand in hand with music, the outfit has to be tailored, which usually translates in about $500 to $5000. The programs change every competitive year, which also means a change in music and therefore the costumes, usually accompanied by skates. Especially for Olympians, it’s standard to wear out their skates annually. And not to mention the upkeep with skate sharpening, which is done monthly or every two months, and costs $10 to $25.
Additional costs come with hair and makeup, mainly for women, such as a good waterproof mascara, eye-liner, pencil, foundation, blush and lipstick, which can reach around $150 or more, depending on brands. Figure skaters often choose a professional makeup service, which runs between $90-$140 per application.
The training equipment
Skaters do not wear their costume when they train, but technical cloths designed specifically to preserve the thermal balance, without compromising the comfort and freedom of movement. Leggings for a child can cost more than $100, so for the adult version, the price is much higher. Long sleeve top for adults is, for example, about $95.
Approaching skating: how much does a course cost?
Skating is a sport that needs a lot of physical work in the gym and lots of repetitions on ice – no one is born with the double axel in his ropes. So to get to the levels of the sublime athletes seen on Winter Olympics, one has to learn a lot and therefore follow multiple courses. For an annual course three times a week, you can get to spend more than $1000 per child.
But as a child progresses in age and competitive category, so does the training hours and with them, of course, the costs. Intermediate skaters will require at minimum three to four 45-minute practice sessions per day, about 6 times a week. Skaters of this level take at least 2 to 3 private lessons a day with highly qualified competitive figure skating coaches, that charge anywhere from $65 to $120 per hour. And by including the costs of supplemental coaches and choreographers, which can run between $1,500 to $5,000 annually for a single program, you get an eye-watering number of well over $1,000 a week just for training.
The travels – cross and delight of an international athlete
Anyone who has taken an aircraft at least once in their life knows, what are the costs for flights and a hotel room in any location far from home. And professional skaters are not only tasked with flying themselves out but often pay for their coaches, which can add up to about $10,000 per year. Many will also use regular physical therapy and massages, which can run up to $350 per session.
This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. It is important to note that professional skaters, who perform at the Olympic level, begin their career extremely young, so the costs rack up every year. Children usually don’t go to compete out of their country, but families often still take long journeys by train or exhausting trips by car to go to competitions, avoiding sleeping over at a destination to keep costs down. And if the ice building where they train is far away, kids’ lifestyle starts to be taken seriously. In the beginning, the family has a very important role in the formation of a young champion, and they usually make a lot of sacrifices, in time, money and emotions.