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Thread: Do most skaters end up in debt after their careers are over?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by tulosai View Post
    That is true in Russia but only of the very very top skaters, and the stipend also depends on the parents (when the skater is a 'minor') and what the parents do or don't do for a living. Sometimes too the skater isn't given a stipend but is, for example, provided with an apartment (Alena Leonova had one provided by the federation at one time, and B/L do now if I remember correctly).

    In any case, the vast majority of training expenses have always been covered for the 'best' skaters in Russia. It is why their pool of 'training' skaters thins significantly each year as the kids get older- it is a very harsh system there where if you no longer show promise, you essentially can no longer train, not only because you aren't funded but because coaches are not permitted to take you. There are of course major pros and cons to how it is done places like Russia an China versus how it is done in the USA or Canada.
    That's an excellent point to consider. While Americans' "sink or swim" situation is frustrating and difficult, at least no one outright tells a skater or a pair that there's no place for them in the sport anymore. Another plus for the Western approach is that unlike a place such as China, where skaters must often live at a sports facility, here skaters get to have a home life and can sometimes modify a practice schedule to fit other obligations, such as school. Also, if a skater ends up with an especially harsh coach, the skater can generally fire the coach and find another one. If you're training with "the" national coach, what choice do you have, except to quit skating altogether?

    Those constraints might make sense when a skater is totally subsidized, because of course the people that pay the piper get to call the tune. But there are downsides to that approach. I guess the ideal is a smaller country like Japan with a mix of subsidy and sponsorship.

  2. #32
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Just to throw some numbers out there, if you (a singles skater) won both of your Grand Prix events, plus the Grand Prix final, plus Europeans or Four Continents, plus Worlds, you would net US$ 126,000 in prize money. Subtract 90,000 for expenses, and your annual salary was 36,000.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Just to throw some numbers out there, if you (a singles skater) won both of your Grand Prix events, plus the Grand Prix final, plus Europeans or Four Continents, plus Worlds, you would net US$ 126,000 in prize money. Subtract 90,000 for expenses, and your annual salary was 36,000.
    That's more than I make working two jobs.

  4. #34
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    See? You should take up skating.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Just to throw some numbers out there, if you (a singles skater) won both of your Grand Prix events, plus the Grand Prix final, plus Europeans or Four Continents, plus Worlds, you would net US$ 126,000 in prize money. Subtract 90,000 for expenses, and your annual salary was 36,000.
    You usually have to share the prize money with your federation.

  6. #36
    Yuna's Ice Rink cooper's Avatar
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    how much is skating in ice shows worth anyway??

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    Quote Originally Posted by cooper View Post
    how much is skating in ice shows worth anyway??

    depends on the show, the skater, and who negotiates the deal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Just to throw some numbers out there, if you (a singles skater) won both of your Grand Prix events, plus the Grand Prix final, plus Europeans or Four Continents, plus Worlds, you would net US$ 126,000 in prize money. Subtract 90,000 for expenses, and your annual salary was 36,000.
    Doesn't the USFSA give money to some skaters?

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenaj View Post
    Doesn't the USFSA give money to some skaters?
    team envelopes get a very small stipend, and there is the USFSA Memorial Fund that gives out (again, small) scholarships to off set costs for skaters.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenaj View Post
    Doesn't the USFSA give money to some skaters?
    Athlete funding opportunities

    The team envelope funding is the most significant. I'm not sure where to find the funding amounts. I think it varies from year to year. I think Team A is into the 5 figures, so that would help significantly but not cover all expenses.

    Scholarships, grants, and awards

    These are less significant, less tied to elite competitive status, and mostly one-time only.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    team envelopes get a very small stipend, and there is the USFSA Memorial Fund that gives out (again, small) scholarships to off set costs for skaters.
    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    Athlete funding opportunities

    The team envelope funding is the most significant. I'm not sure where to find the funding amounts. I think it varies from year to year. I think Team A is into the 5 figures, so that would help significantly but not cover all expenses.

    Scholarships, grants, and awards

    These are less significant, less tied to elite competitive status, and mostly one-time only.
    Agree with Toni and gkelly that the funding from U.S. Figure Skating is modest, at best.

    From U.S. Figure Skating's official fact sheet:

    Throughout the 2013-14 season, U.S. Figure Skating will directly distribute more than $1 million to its athletes through training grants and financial assistance. The funding — distributed through the Athlete Support Program (ASUPP), the Synchronized Team Envelope Funding (STEF), the U.S. Figure Skating bonus program and the U.S. Figure Skating Memorial Fund — reaches novice, junior and senior skaters.
    Funding from the Athlete Support Program and synchronized team envelope funding will assist more than 230 U.S. figure skaters and synchronized skaters who were selected to the 2013-14 team envelope.
    The U.S. Figure Skating Team Envelope system has been established to identify top figure skaters throughout the United States. Athletes are selected to one of four envelopes — Team A, Team B, Team C and Reserve Team — based on their competition placements from last season. The four-level system serves as a guideline when determining funding levels and privileges.

    $1 million divided among 230 skaters = not very much per skater.

    Understood that amounts vary per skater, but my hunch is that even those belonging to Team A do not receive enough to cover more than a fraction of their training costs.

    ETA, from the same fact sheet:

    The Memorial Fund supports three programs, the Competitive Skaters Assistance Program (CSAP), the Academic Scholarship Program (ASP) and the RISE Youth Essay Contest. From these programs, qualified skaters receive support to help defray their training and college expenses. More than 150 skaters receive financial assistance totaling more than $300,000 from the Memorial Fund each year.

  12. #42
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    As far as actual debt, I doubt that skaters incur any except to their parents. I don't think a teenager can go to a bank and say, give me an unsecured loan for fifty thousand dollars loan so I can pursue my hobby -- I'll pay you back after I win the Olympics. Coaches do not generally teach for free with a promise of future payment, and the same for ice time, choreography, travel, costumes, etc.

    If you finish your career in hock to your parents for a quarter million dollars, I would imagine that in most cases the debt is simply forgiven.

  13. #43
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    Mishin every year organizes two "Mishin's summer camp", the skaters arrive from many different countries ( in this year was a girl from South Africa). The camp's profit isn't only Mishin's money, he supports the poorer children in his group.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    As far as actual debt, I doubt that skaters incur any except to their parents. I don't think a teenager can go to a bank and say, give me an unsecured loan for fifty thousand dollars loan so I can pursue my hobby -- I'll pay you back after I win the Olympics. Coaches do not generally teach for free with a promise of future payment, and the same for ice time, choreography, travel, costumes, etc.

    If you finish your career in hock to your parents for a quarter million dollars, I would imagine that in most cases the debt is simply forgiven.
    Agree ... but as discussed earlier in this thread:

    For the parents, the $250,000 would go a long way toward securing a decent retirement for themselves; for enabling the skater's sibling(s) to pursue (potentially costly) dreams of her/his/their own (whatever those might be); and for any number of other non-frivolous expenses.

    Spending a quarter million on one child's skating career is not to be done lightly, I would say.

  15. #45
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    I remember reading once that when Michelle Kwan was a little girl her father wanted to make sure that she was really serious, so he made her this offer. If she would quit skating he would give her the money in cash that he intended to spend on her skating lessons for the year.

    Michelle chose to skate on -- and the rest is history.

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