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Salary of a professional figure skater

Figure skating is one of the most popular sports at Winter Olympics but is also one of the most expensive ones. Professional skaters start to train at a very young age, so the costs rack up every year with training and especially competition equipment, that is changed every competitive year, multiple courses, supplemental coaches, choreographers, and travel. Final expenses can escalate up to $50,000 and more annually for an Olympic athlete,  so one can’t help but wonder how they manage to keep up with it?

The reality is that these athletes can potentially earn more than a speed skater or cross-country skier, because of the appeal of the sport, but only a small number of theme make enough to even begin to pay off the money they’ve poured into it. Like in other sports, there are figure skating celebrities, like Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, that might amass multi-million dollars, but one typical “Disney on Ice” skater will most likely pull around $500 to $800 a week during show season, or $20,000 per year.

Average figure skating athletes are like many other Olympic athletes – they often have to take side jobs in order to earn enough money to compete. Most join with a cruise ship or a travelling ice show performances, such as the popular Disney on Ice. A lot of them also start coaching or commentating, which is usually better paying. That goes especially for commentating – Johnny Weir, for example, has a net worth of $4 million, and Tara Lipinski $6 million. The rate for private coaches is around $20 per 20 minutes on the low end and increases sharply from there depending on experience with high-level skaters and competitions. However, most coaches are on the lower end of that pay scale, since they start with learn-to-skate classes.

Professional skaters’ salary varies a great deal. They can, for example, earn $2,000 to $45,000 in prize money for international competitions at the senior level, depending on the competition and where they place. Of course, high-end champs make bigger bucks all the way around, but the field is hugely competitive. According to BBC Sports’ study, world champs’ individuals earn $57,332 prize money, and ice dancing and pairs world champs $85,998. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median wage in 2017 for athletes and sports competitors at $51,370, which means half earn more and half earn less.

Some athletes, especially those with high profiles, are lucky enough to take commercial sponsorships, especially if they’re in contention for gold. But less than 5% of overall Olympic athletes achieve the sort of success that allows them to survive only from prize money and sponsorships. Most work hard to secure their own sources of funding through part-time jobs, crowdfunding, family funds and community support.

Sources: BizFluent, BBC, Shmoop


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