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.