Figure skater populations around the world | Golden Skate

Figure skater populations around the world

Flying Feijoa

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Country
New-Zealand
I just came across this interesting webpage:
North America, Russia and Japan are as expected. The intra-European statistics surprised me a little though! (Someone show the Swedish federation this...)

Uplifter does software for clubs (including figure skating among other sports) so I am guessing they get their numbers from clients' data, and perhaps some other sources in countries where different software is used. The figures also depend on how you define 'figure skater' - presumably here it means registered club participants who might be testing/competing, so it would include a lot of 'grassroots' skaters. I think it offers an interesting alternative perspective of the sport's global popularity compared to looking at elite competition medal counts, TV viewership, fanbase numbers etc.
 

SK4T3

Rinkside
Joined
Apr 16, 2023
Yeah this gives great insights! Thank you for sharing.
The intra-European statistics surprised me a little though! (Someone show the Swedish federation this...)
What do you mean with above text? Are you surprised by the high- or low European numbers of figureskaters? What's your question exactly about the Swedish Federation?
 

lilimum

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 13, 2022
Country
Germany
I have doubts that this figures are right. I have my doubts that there are 20.000 figure skater in the small country of the Netherlands, where speed skating is much more popular - and only 3.500 figure skater in Italy, the half of the amount of Austria ?
 

icewhite

Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 7, 2022
I just came across this interesting webpage:
North America, Russia and Japan are as expected. The intra-European statistics surprised me a little though! (Someone show the Swedish federation this...)

Uplifter does software for clubs (including figure skating among other sports) so I am guessing they get their numbers from clients' data, and perhaps some other sources in countries where different software is used. The figures also depend on how you define 'figure skater' - presumably here it means registered club participants who might be testing/competing, so it would include a lot of 'grassroots' skaters. I think it offers an interesting alternative perspective of the sport's global popularity compared to looking at elite competition medal counts, TV viewership, fanbase numbers etc.

Thanks, that's interesting. It remains unclear how exactly they got their numbers and who they counted - I suspect among other problems they might have counted people enrolled in extremely basic skating courses from which they might continue to do hockey or other forms of skating or nothing at all, but I've been looking for this info for quite some time and this is a good start.
 

Flying Feijoa

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Country
New-Zealand
Yeah this gives great insights! Thank you for sharing.

What do you mean with above text? Are you surprised by the high- or low European numbers of figureskaters? What's your question exactly about the Swedish Federation?

I have doubts that this figures are right. I have my doubts that there are 20.000 figure skater in the small country of the Netherlands, where speed skating is much more popular - and only 3.500 figure skater in Italy, the half of the amount of Austria ?
Yes, I'm a bit surprised by the relative numbers of certain countries, e.g. the high number per capita for Sweden and Helsinki, relatively low absolute number for Italy. Germany and UK agree with what I would expect though.
@icewhite I think you are probably right and it may have to do with the counting of learn-to-skate (pre-speed/figure/hockey specialisation) participants in some countries.
Re Swedish fed I remember them being a bit reluctant to send their qualified skaters to competition/Olympics. But evidently the sport is popular there so data like this would justify supporting their skaters more.
 

SK4T3

Rinkside
Joined
Apr 16, 2023
From public available information:

The Netherlands counts 22 Ice Rinks (still a lot); Some are semi-indoor; most are closed in summer season.
The Netherlands counts 27 Registered Figure Skating Clubs at 19 different rinks.

I'm sure these clubs are not that big.

@icewhite is right; Extremely Basic Skaters who evolve to Hockey/Speed/Figure are counted.

Skating is extremely loved in The Netherlands. 1.325.000 unique people are using "kunstbanen" (non-natural Ice) per year; so Artificial IceFloors and Asphalt are included. But in this context it means fake.

Figureskating is called "kunstrijden". In this context it means art.
 

FlossieH

Medalist
Joined
Dec 2, 2022
Country
United-Kingdom
Yes, I'm a bit surprised by the relative numbers of certain countries, e.g. the high number per capita for Sweden and Helsinki, relatively low absolute number for Italy. Germany and UK agree with what I would expect though.
@icewhite I think you are probably right and it may have to do with the counting of learn-to-skate (pre-speed/figure/hockey specialisation) participants in some countries.
Re Swedish fed I remember them being a bit reluctant to send their qualified skaters to competition/Olympics. But evidently the sport is popular there so data like this would justify supporting their skaters more.
I think the UK figure is high. Looking a information on the BIS website, it appears that the figure given in the article linked in the OP may be based on BIS membership, which includes speed skating.
 

Flying Feijoa

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Country
New-Zealand
Thanks everyone for adding some context to the figures in your/other countries! The source definitely isn't super rigorous - I think it might have been put together quickly as a sort of 'fun facts' page - but good as a conversation starter.

I wonder if there is more reliable data on global skating participation floating around somewhere. Maybe the ISU could compile something with input from national federations, if they haven't done so already. It would be great to have a more detailed breakdown, e.g. by discipline, age/gender, proficiency (beginning freestyle all the way up to elite senior level), etc.

I think for instance that adult skating is growing in popularity, or at least that some federations are making an effort to cater to this demographic, e.g. by organising more adult competitions (my impression is that it's a bit bigger in North America than Europe, but without statistics I'm just assuming this from anecdotal/circumstantial evidence). And like the posters above mentioned, synchro is especially popular in Scandinavia, speed in the Netherlands... Sometimes the participation level of a given country can be extrapolated from how well it does in international competition, but it's not always the case (e.g. outliers from small feds like Javier Fernandez, or the Canadian singles skaters' results this past season).
 

icewhite

Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 7, 2022
Thanks everyone for adding some context to the figures in your/other countries! The source definitely isn't super rigorous - I think it might have been put together quickly as a sort of 'fun facts' page - but good as a conversation starter.

I wonder if there is more reliable data on global skating participation floating around somewhere. Maybe the ISU could compile something with input from national federations, if they haven't done so already. It would be great to have a more detailed breakdown, e.g. by discipline, age/gender, proficiency (beginning freestyle all the way up to elite senior level), etc.

I think for instance that adult skating is growing in popularity, or at least that some federations are making an effort to cater to this demographic, e.g. by organising more adult competitions (my impression is that it's a bit bigger in North America than Europe, but without statistics I'm just assuming this from anecdotal/circumstantial evidence). And like the posters above mentioned, synchro is especially popular in Scandinavia, speed in the Netherlands... Sometimes the participation level of a given country can be extrapolated from how well it does in international competition, but it's not always the case (e.g. outliers from small feds like Javier Fernandez, or the Canadian singles skaters' results this past season).

I would also hope that the ISU has these numbers. It would be very sloppy of them if they didn't. But I haven't come across the data even though I have been looking, so I think it is not made public. :unsure:
 

Arwen17

Final Flight
Joined
Jan 20, 2017
This is the sort of data I love. I wish we had country-wide and world-wide maps of ice rink locations, how many ice sheets they have, if they have a club at a particular ice rink, how big the club membership is, etc. I know USFSA has a "find a club" search box, but I want a map where you can see concentrations of populations. And most importantly, they need ways to look up stuff like "find a synchro team", "find a theatre on ice team" etc. Especially for adults, since adult teams are much rarer than kid teams.

I'd even make "state competition" rankings for which states have the most rinks, the most skating members etc. Maybe an attempt to shame the other states into building more ice rinks lol
 

4everchan

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 7, 2015
Country
Martinique
Sometimes the participation level of a given country can be extrapolated from how well it does in international competition, but it's not always the case (e.g. outliers from small feds like Javier Fernandez, or the Canadian singles skaters' results this past season).
I was surprised to see the numbers in Canada, because our population is not big compared to USA or Asian countries. But then, many kids are enrolled in Learn to Skate and switch to hockey or short track speed skating (I guess they could switch to long track too). Also, many many many kids do figure skating as a hobby. Many of my own students figure skate but not training much. One girl told me once, I just did my first waltz jump and she was a teenager and had started skating quite young. Recreational figure skating seems to be something popular here. Recreational everything is popular in Canada. There is a lot of emphasis on having fun while doing sports. What it does create is not figure skaters at an elite level but very appreciate fans. We saw that at Worlds in Montreal.
 

hope_skate

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 31, 2024
Country
Russia
This is the sort of data I love. I wish we had country-wide and world-wide maps of ice rink locations, how many ice sheets they have, if they have a club at a particular ice rink, how big the club membership is, etc. I know USFSA has a "find a club" search box, but I want a map where you can see concentrations of populations. And most importantly, they need ways to look up stuff like "find a synchro team", "find a theatre on ice team" etc. Especially for adults, since adult teams are much rarer than kid teams.

I'd even make "state competition" rankings for which states have the most rinks, the most skating members etc. Maybe an attempt to shame the other states into building more ice rinks lol
In Moscow, we have (sort of) this type of maps where you can find ice rinks/skating facilities (among other sport facilities) organised by the MosGorSport. Not sure about other cities tho. Usually these schools are not for adults but many adults skating schools are in the city, as can be seen on this site. Unfortunately, I don't think this is country wide and I've heard fellow adult skaters here saying that it's very difficult to find adult skating schools in smaller cities. For this reason, many of us opt for individual lessons with trainers and go to one of the many rinks in the city we are located in.
 

Flying Feijoa

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Country
New-Zealand
I was surprised to see the numbers in Canada, because our population is not big compared to USA or Asian countries. But then, many kids are enrolled in Learn to Skate and switch to hockey or short track speed skating (I guess they could switch to long track too). Also, many many many kids do figure skating as a hobby. Many of my own students figure skate but not training much. One girl told me once, I just did my first waltz jump and she was a teenager and had started skating quite young. Recreational figure skating seems to be something popular here. Recreational everything is popular in Canada. There is a lot of emphasis on having fun while doing sports. What it does create is not figure skaters at an elite level but very appreciate fans. We saw that at Worlds in Montreal.
Yes, it's a great place to be an adult skater/figure skating fan! From this perspective, I really like that skaters who can't or don't want to go competitive can still train and test up to a respectably high level in the recreational track (I know some who've gone on to show skating).
I would think recreational and competitive skating aren't mutually exclusive aims for a federation, but I guess that if resources are limited then they need to be balanced carefully between the two.
By the way are most Canadians able to do at least some basic skating (including you)? 😁
 

Flying Feijoa

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Country
New-Zealand
In Moscow, we have (sort of) this type of maps where you can find ice rinks/skating facilities (among other sport facilities) organised by the MosGorSport. Not sure about other cities tho. Usually these schools are not for adults but many adults skating schools are in the city, as can be seen on this site. Unfortunately, I don't think this is country wide and I've heard fellow adult skaters here saying that it's very difficult to find adult skating schools in smaller cities. For this reason, many of us opt for individual lessons with trainers and go to one of the many rinks in the city we are located in.
Thanks for the info! We don't usually hear much about adult skating in Russia, so it's good to know that you exist as a community :) Do you also have kids who do figure skating at a recreational level?
 

4everchan

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 7, 2015
Country
Martinique
Yes, it's a great place to be an adult skater/figure skating fan! From this perspective, I really like that skaters who can't or don't want to go competitive can still train and test up to a respectably high level in the recreational track (I know some who've gone on to show skating).
I would think recreational and competitive skating aren't mutually exclusive aims for a federation, but I guess that if resources are limited then they need to be balanced carefully between the two.
By the way are most Canadians able to do at least some basic skating (including you)? 😁
I don't know about most Canadians nowadays..but most kids played hockey when i was a kid. Now, there are more options ;) My dad used to build an ice sheet in our backyard every winter. That's how I learned how to skate... and fall :) but I never figure skated so I wouldn't have been part of these stats ;)
 

icewhite

Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 7, 2022
This is the sort of data I love. I wish we had country-wide and world-wide maps of ice rink locations, how many ice sheets they have, if they have a club at a particular ice rink, how big the club membership is, etc. I know USFSA has a "find a club" search box, but I want a map where you can see concentrations of populations. And most importantly, they need ways to look up stuff like "find a synchro team", "find a theatre on ice team" etc. Especially for adults, since adult teams are much rarer than kid teams.

I'd even make "state competition" rankings for which states have the most rinks, the most skating members etc. Maybe an attempt to shame the other states into building more ice rinks lol

With climate change getting more and more noticable there is just no way Germany will build more ice rinks and I think that goes for many European countries. The snow is melting in the mountains so winter sports in general will be more and more scrutinized and unless it can all be powered by solar energy I don't see a bright future for ice rinks... However rollerskating has a huge revival. I see more kids rollerblading again in the parks and there are even new indoor rollerskating rinks opened, at least temporarily.
 

hope_skate

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 31, 2024
Country
Russia
Thanks for the info! We don't usually hear much about adult skating in Russia, so it's good to know that you exist as a community :) Do you also have kids who do figure skating at a recreational level?
actually skating in general is quite popular as a past time activity/hobby so lots of kids would be enrolled in figure skating/hockey lessons as part of their co-curricular activities. Moscow has this program called "My Sport District" where they organised free classes/lessons for different sports to encourage participation. For example, in winter we have free skating lessons (both figure and hockey) 3x/week for adults and kids in rinks across the city. I went to those lessons and saw quite a lot of kids just learning how to skate as a recreational winter activity. Usually the more dedicated ones would have their parents enroll them in sports schools.
 

lilimum

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 13, 2022
Country
Germany
With climate change getting more and more noticable there is just no way Germany will build more ice rinks and I think that goes for many European countries. The snow is melting in the mountains so winter sports in general will be more and more scrutinized and unless it can all be powered by solar energy I don't see a bright future for ice rinks... However rollerskating has a huge revival. I see more kids rollerblading again in the parks and there are even new indoor rollerskating rinks opened, at least temporarily.
I know in Germany is the tendency to close the ice rinks least for serveral month in summer or close the rink completely, because the rinks are old and it would need a lot of money to refurbish the place and make them more "green". But new rinks can be CO2 neutral with good insulation, installation of heat exchange e.g. for warm water or heatingl and of couse Photovoltaik. The main point is the need of a strong investor to work with. In Ice Hokey it is possible. Red Bull just build in Munich a complex for Ice hockey and basketball with 4 halls, all with ice rinks - officially C02 neutral.
But refurbish old rinks is possible, if someone is willing to pay. See the "Basque Sports City" in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Northern Spain, where sports is a very important part of life. They used the heat of the ice rink from the beginning and installed last summer solar panels all over the roof of the complete complex.
 

icewhite

Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 7, 2022
I know in Germany is the tendency to close the ice rinks least for serveral month in summer or close the rink completely, because the rinks are old and it would need a lot of money to refurbish the place and make them more "green". But new rinks can be CO2 neutral with good insulation, installation of heat exchange e.g. for warm water or heatingl and of couse Photovoltaik. The main point is the need of a strong investor to work with. In Ice Hokey it is possible. Red Bull just build in Munich a complex for Ice hockey and basketball with 4 halls, all with ice rinks - officially C02 neutral.
But refurbish old rinks is possible, if someone is willing to pay. See the "Basque Sports City" in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Northern Spain, where sports is a very important part of life. They used the heat of the ice rink from the beginning and installed last summer solar panels all over the roof of the complete complex.

I didn't know that. It's surprising to me that they are able to have such a building "CO2 neutral". Is it actually technically possible or did they buy themselves off? If it's really possible, that would be amazing.
 
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