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Thread: How do Elite Skaters pay their bills?

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    Custom Title Minze2001's Avatar
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    How do Elite Skaters pay their bills?

    Sorry if this a dumb question. I am a fairly new skating fan. But how do skaters support themselves, I assume to be able to be considered an elite skater one has to train many hours a day and with that it is hard to have a regular job. With the bad economy it will be difficult for most parents to afford skating. Do federations help promising skaters with the cost? And how do sponsors help you financially?

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    Skating is art, if you let it be. Blades of Passion's Avatar
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    The only way to become an Elite level skater is to have money, unless you live in China and you are chosen at a young age for their athletics program. Russia used to have a program like that, not sure how much is still funded by the government.

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    How about those anonymous sponsors so Many US athletes have? That helps! Not corporate but individuals.

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    Possible sources of funding beyond family:

    private sponsors
    corporate sponsors
    local fundraising
    discounted or free ice time and lessons from rink and coach (could involve contracts for a percentage of future earnings)
    grants from nonprofit funds designed to help support skaters or athletes in general (e.g., Michael Weiss Foundation)
    scholarships and grants from US Figure Skating (e.g., Memorial Fund)
    merit-based funding from USFS and USOC

    Most of these sources of funding provide only a small fraction of what it actually costs to train to an elite level. And many of them are only available after the skater has already achieved some significant results.

    So, as Blades of Passion says, it's very rare for skaters to reach elite levels without significant financial output by their families.

    Once they're old enough, they often coach alongside training, now that "amateurism" is no longer an issue, since they're at the rink anyway and they can earn more per hour than in most part-time jobs.

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    Custom Title Minze2001's Avatar
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    So, it will be very hard for a poor kid to get started in this sport

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    Celebrating the Excellence of #VirtueMoir golden411's Avatar
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    I would add that probably every skater's situation -- in terms of federation support and sponsorships -- is unique, depending on what country they represent and what their skating potential and marketing potential are perceived to be (based at least in part on their past success).

    Some skaters have jobs that are unrelated to skating (e.g., retail, food service, etc.).

    Crowdfunding is another new potential source of money.
    Example: the Gamelins, the American ice dance twins.
    http://www.gofundme.com/gamelintwins

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    It's possible to get involved with figure skating on a limited budget. And there are some programs that make skating available to disadvantaged minority populations.

    You can take take group lessons once a week and practice a couple hours more per week and even enter competitions and have fun, and eventually include single jumps and maybe even axels and some doubles.

    But it takes a lot more than that to get to an elite level. Or even what we might call a competitive level (e.g., good enough to go to regionals in the US, and especially to finish in the top half of the field there, let alone get past qual rounds for the girls). Mostly ice time and intensive coaching, all of which costs money. And then when you do get there, the travel expenses also multiply.

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    Outdated Old Dinosaur
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    While not overly familiar with the costs, I think it must be very difficult for poor families.

    Skates, coaching, ice time... and when they're ready - costumes and expenses related to competition...

    That's why I think sports like soccer and basketball have such global appeal. In the case of soccer, all that's needed for a kid to play is a ball. You often see photos/video of slum areas with kids playing soccer.

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    Celebrating the Excellence of #VirtueMoir golden411's Avatar
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    I believe that Agnes Zawadzki is an example of an elite skater whose loving family members really have scrimped and saved and made major sacrifices to support her skating -- including taking on extra work for additional income.
    No doubt that many other skaters and families are in the same boat. Hats off to all of them.

  10. #10
    Outdated Old Dinosaur
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    I'm almost certain that Peggy Fleming was one of these skaters.

    Didn't her mother make the dress she wore when skating to an OGM?

  11. #11
    Skating is art, if you let it be. Blades of Passion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by golden411 View Post
    I believe that Agnes Zawadzki is an example of an elite skater whose loving family members really have scrimped and saved and made major sacrifices to support her skating -- including taking on extra work for additional income.
    But it still comes down to the fact that her family is paying for it. You can't be 12 years old and have the goal of being an Olympic ice skater if your family won't support it. Much different than soccer or basketball, as was just pointed out.

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    Outdated Old Dinosaur
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    Skating is bad enough for families who struggle financially, but how'd you like to be a middle class family whose children want to get into show jumping?

    Now THERE is an elitist sport... not that I don't enjoy watching equestrian events.

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    Celebrating the Excellence of #VirtueMoir golden411's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blades of Passion View Post
    But it still comes down to the fact that her family is paying for it. You can't be 12 years old and have the goal of being an Olympic ice skater if your family won't support it. Much different than soccer or basketball, as was just pointed out.
    I cited Zawadzki as an example of what is possible -- with a family's collective determination and hard work -- for a skater who was not born with a silver spoon in her/his mouth.

    Along similar lines, I remember an anecdote that a young boy named Scott Moir was mortified to skate in hand-me-down white boots that had belonged to his female cousin -- but he had no choice, because his family could not afford new black boots for him.

    As for soccer and basketball: I understand the contrast in their basic costs vs. figure skating's. (OTOH, I would add that recreational play of soccer and basketball is one thing, and reaching the highest levels of those sports is another.)

  14. #14
    Custom Title Minze2001's Avatar
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    If your family is making all those financial sacrifices that should be a motivation to make it to the top of the sport, but it could also be a lot of pressure to not disappoint them. I read an interview with Victoria Muniz and she mentioned that her dream was to be able to pay her family for all the money they have put into her skating: Admirable goal, but the question is: if you get to a certain age and have not accomplished what you hope for in the sport isn't quitting a good option.

    Ashley Wagner said something very telling in her interview, some people keep perusing this dream and miss out in going to school.

    One thing I admired about the people who practice this sport is the fact that they do it for the love of it. Honestly, unless you get to the level of Michelle Kwan you wont become wealthy as figure skater. As opposed to other sports like Basketball, baseball, soccer, and football: Lebrone James was singing endorsement deal at 18yrs old

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    Johnny Weir and his mom has a nice gift (comeback) funding from generous fans,
    http://johnnyscomebackgiftfund.com/

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