Theodore Stroukoff Explains what Aspiring Figure Skaters Should Know

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Theodore Stroukoff was born in New Jersey and graduated from Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville in 1972. Lawrenceville is a town with a population in the low thousands, and growing up in a small town helped Theodore Stroukoff develop interpersonal skills that would later prove invaluable as a nursing professional.

Although Theodore Stroukoff’s early childhood was spent in New Jersey on the East Coast, he later relocated to New Mexico with his wife. In New Mexico, Theodore Stroukoff obtained a nursing degree from Santa Fe Community College, becoming an RN. Nursing is one of 72 professional degrees offered by Santa Fe Community College, a public two-year college located in Santa Fe.

Theodore Stroukoff saw many starry-eyed young figure skaters while working as a skating coach for twenty-seven years. While Theodore Stroukoff says many of those skaters simply enjoyed learning to gracefully glide across the ice, others had aspirations of becoming the next Michelle Kwan. But Theodore Stroukoff cautions parents that the road to Olympic gold is a long, bumpy one.

It’s a road that usually begins at a young age, Theodore Stroukoff states. If someone is sixteen or seventeen when he or she begins learning to figure skate, the chances are slim that that child will ever see the Olympics. While competing in national and international competitions is certainly not the only reason to pursue figure skating lessons, Theodore Stroukoff acknowledges that this usually justifies the large expense that goes into lessons.

The U.S. Figure Skating Association estimates that the average annual expense for figure skating is $9,000-$10,000 for children learning the sport. This is primarily due to the cost of private lessons, Theodore Stroukoff explains, which require the parent to pay for ice time and the coach’s time. By the time a child is competing at the novice level, the annual expense is estimated to be closer to $35,000 to $40,000 a year, according to Theodore Stroukoff.

Theodore Stroukoff also notes that the payoff isn’t greater than the payout. Even among champions, pay is lower than other sports, Theodore Stroukoff states. The prize for a singles skater in the 2011 World Championships was only $45,000. Olympic medalists can earn money through endorsements and shows, Theodore Stroukoff reports, but many figure skaters do it for love of the sport, not money.

Part of the cost for figure skating includes costumes and custom-fitted ice skates, which must be regularly replaced for avid skaters. But the true expense is in time and sweat, Theodore Stroukoff emphasizes. A dedicated figure skater books ice time daily, often getting up early in the morning to practice. Theodore Stroukoff saw many students who weren’t quite able to commit to that level of dedication long-term.

There are many other opportunities for figure skaters, Theodore Stroukoff describes, including local and regional competitions that have no age limit. Theodore Stroukoff has seen adults in their twenties, thirties, and beyond take up figure skating for the first time and compete locally as a hobby. Not only is figure skating great exercise, Theodore Stroukoff points out, it also gives the skater a sense of personal achievement to conquer such a challenging sport.


10 Responses

You are an inspiration because you dedicated yourself to teaching children to learn ice skating while staying very busy with your nursing. I’m sure that you run into a lot of parents who expect their child to become the next ice skating champion.

04.11.12

My wife loves to watch Michelle Kwan. After reading your article, I now understand how much training they have to do to become the next ice skating star. Thanks for sharing this info, Theodore Stroukoff.

04.11.12

I had no idea that ice skating training was expensive. My daughter wants to learn and I want to surprise her with some lessons. Thank you for writing this article, Theodore Stroukoff. At least now I can prepare myself and start saving up!

I was surprised to learn that you have a degree in nursing. Instead of practicing to be a nurse, you’ve dedicated your time to teaching and coaching ice skating. That is a very noble thing.

04.11.12

Ice skating is a popular sport during winter. I know that a lot of kids interested in ice skating want to be the next “Michelle Kwan”. You have work cut out for you, Theodore Stroukoff. Good luck teaching those kids to become ice skating champions.

@Minerva Morrisey – Thank you for the kind words. I look at it this way – every child has a dream, and I’m there to help cultivate a love for ice skating — whether or not they actually turn into an ice skating champion. The most important thing to me is that the child is happy, enjoying what they are doing. – Theodore Stroukoff

@Zach Pajeck – Yes, Michelle Kwan is very talented. A great ice skater makes it look easy. That’s the key… making it look easy, even though the technique is extremely difficult. I am glad to know that you realize how many years it takes to become a professional. But determination in any field will get you far. – Theodore Stroukoff.

@Eve Ochi – Ice Skating training – depending on how many times a month you wish to have – can be very expensive. Definitely do your research, but I know your daughter will enjoy it if she tries it. – Theodore Stroukoff.

@Diana Griffin – Well, I actually did both – nursing AND the ice skating coaching. But yes – I was determined to follow my dreams and passions and you should too! – Theodore Stroukoff.

@Cindy Leigh – Yes, Michelle Kwan is a great ice skating role model for young kids to look up to. If a child has the drive and determination to push through the many hours of practice, I will be there to coach them! – Theodore Stroukoff.

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