How Much Does It Cost To Become An Olympic Figure Skater? It's Expensive To Get Into The Sport

Ad failed to load

The glitz and glamor of the figure skaters as they skim across the ice at the Winter Olympics may dazzle, but audiences are witnessing the culmination of years of training — and, for elite competitors, a truly spectacular price tag. Between costumes, training, custom skates, choreography and other elements, being an Olympian in figure skating, or simply competing at an elite level, is a substantial financial commitment — one that supportive families and clubs can spend a fortune attempting to accommodate. The amount of money it can cost to become an Olympic figure skater can be seriously mind-boggling.

The most obvious area of impressive expense, for the public viewer at least, is the costumes — which don't come cheap. An investigation by The Gloss in 2014 found that all costumes for Olympic skaters are, by and large, custom-made — unsurprisingly, as it's not a good look to be in the same outfit as somebody else. According to the Gloss, elite-level costumes from designers can cost between $500 and $5,000, and skaters have two costumes, one for their short program and one for their long (and that's not counting spare costumes, in case one rips or gets dirty). They tend to need new costumes every year, too. Those spangles and sparkles are often applied by hand. And the performance "look" for female skaters in particular also involves make-up and hair, which at the elite level is usually applied professionally.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Ad failed to load

And then there are the skates. Estimates differ, but it's thought that custom skate boots, which are pretty standard at Olympic level, can be between $1,000 and $1,500 a pair, and competitors can wear them out annually — and that's not counting the cost of sharpening and maintaining them monthly.

Equipment, however, is only the beginning. In an investigation of the costs behind Winter Olympic sports careers, Forbes points out that virtually all Olympic-level figure skaters start as children, meaning years of lessons, private tuition, practice time, competition fees and other expenses. Forbes notes that elite-level figure skaters will likely have reached their peak with a price tag of around $100,000 on their past training and skating life.

Because of the significant investment, a wealthy — or at least financially stable — background is pretty necessary. Stories abound of supportive parents remortgaging homes, cutting down on expenses for other children, and making some extreme financial decisions to be able to afford the cost of sending an elite-level figure skater all the way to the top, and hopefully to the Olympics. Mike Slipchuck, director of Skate Canada, told the CBC that even as a low-level competitor, annual costs can reach $10,000 annually — but that the number could also rise to $30,000. If you reach Team USA, funding is provided and financial aid is also offered, but that's an elite pinnacle.

Ad failed to load
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Once you reach the Olympics, expenses start to pile up, because the best choreographers, musicians, coaches and other elements of a successful competition come at a price. Every competition cycle requires a new routine, and getting the rights to music and coming up with new moves adds up on the balance sheet. Scott Hamilton, who won Olympic figure skating gold in 1984, told the Huffington Post that "I've heard everything from $25,000 to $80,000 a year. It can get out of control."

It's important to remember that being an Olympian doesn't immediately translate into financial success — in fact, far from it. Olympians can often encounter financial trouble, particularly after they retire from their sports, and only a select few of very lucky or very successful team members will attract sponsorships and advertising deals. Catch the public imagination or walk away with a medal and you may be rewarded, but it's in no way guaranteed. Prize money is available at other competitions, but in the Olympics you do it just for the glory — and the gold.

Ad failed to load

Being an Olympian of any kind is an extraordinary sacrifice, not only for the athletes themselves but for their families and support networks. And when you're watching Team USA take to the ice in PyeongChang, it's worth remembering that they've got there through years of very, very expensive work.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In June To Help Get Your Summer Started

Summer is right around the corner, and so is another batch of streaming options to get excited about. On Wednesday, everything leaving and coming to Netflix in June 2018 was announced by the streaming platform. And don't worry, there's something for …
By Jamie Primeau

The 5 Rom-Coms You Need To Read This Summer, According To Someone Who Writes Them

'Tis the season for rom-coms. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and everyone is rocking the flirtiest items in their wardrobe. I don't know about you, but summer always takes me back to my teenage years — and that automatically makes me want t…
By Cristina Arreola

11 Tiny Sunglasses That Will Make You Look Even Cooler Than Kylie Jenner

You know what they say — the tinier the sunglasses, the more stylish the outfit. OK, that's not really a saying, but it seems to be the case these days. Basically every celebrity, model, and It person has been spotted sporting tiny sunglasses as part…
By Sara Tan

9 Ways This Royal Wedding Was Way More Modern Than Past Ones

The newly named Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, made history with their storybook courtship and wedding. What's more, there are myriad ways the royal wedding 2018 was more modern than previous royal weddings. From deciding…
By Brandi Neal

10 Little-Known British Traditions Meghan Markle Will Learn When She Marries Prince Harry

As an American woman dating a Brit, I am no stranger to the mishaps that can result from the cultural differences between the U.S. and England. And while I'm sure Meghan Markle has a slew of royal traditions to learn, titles to remember, and fancy ha…
By Kristin Magaldi

I've Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news …
By Kaitlyn Cawley

12 Personality Quizzes That Will Help You Determine Your Exact Strengths

Learning more about yourself can be tough. It's so easy to observe others to learn what makes them tick, what areas they really excel in, and the things they could be better at. Doing that to yourself, however, is a whole different story. That's exac…
By Jessica Booth

5 Brand New Short Story Collections You Can Finish In One Sitting This Weekend

Since 2013, May has been known by book-lovers by another name: Short Story Month. If you're ready to kick off this year's celebration the right way, make sure to pick up a short story collection to read over the weekend. Modern life moves more than …
By Sadie Trombetta

I Got Styled By 'Queer Eye's Tan France & Realized I Still Have A Lot Of Fashion "Rules" To Unlearn

When I walked into a New York City Express store on May 2 to get styled by Queer Eye's Tan France, I was ready for anything. And I mean truly anything. I am such a massive fan of the show and Tan that if he had instructed me to wrap myself in tin foi…
By Olivia Muenter

It Isn’t Bad To Have A “Princess Fantasy” — Mine Made Me The Woman I Am Today

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you were anything like me as a kid, at some point, the answer to that question was "a princess." Thanks to good old-fashioned gender stereotypes, most little girls born in the '90s (and even now) grew up in…
By Nicole Pomarico

Here’s How To Get A FREE 30-Minute Facial At Sephora That Sucks Your Pores Clean

Sephora has long been a mecca for both serious and amateur beauty lovers alike, where they not only have makeup artists that help answer questions about products, but free samples to let you play with new collections. But now they have upped the ante…
By Marlen Komar

Kris Jenner Is FINALLY Launching A Makeup Line With Kylie

Maybe you don't have a favorite sister of the Kar-Jenner clan, and that's perfectly fine. The one thing you can't deny, though, is that when it comes power, no one in that family has more than the world famous momager. Now, Kris Jenner x Kylie Cosmet…
By Shea Simmons

This Kendall Jenner “Diva” Moment Is Really Being Taken Out Of Context

The fashion always takes center stage at the Met Gala, but there's usually a little drama, too. And this time, a member of the Kardashian-Jenner family is involved. People are buzzing about how Kendall Jenner shoved someone at the Met Gala, but after…
By Nicole Pomarico

Feel Like You've Seen Everything On Netflix? Add These Movies To Your Watch List

The weekend may feel too far away, but if you're lacking formal plans, a Netflix marathon session is always a good idea. If you're an avid viewer, however, you probably feel like you've seen everything the streaming platform has to offer already. In …
By Ashley Rey

These 4 Zodiac Signs Are Going To Have The Best Luck In Love This May

Spring fever is here, but not all signs in the zodiac are dealt the same dose of lovin'. Some signs are going to have a better love lives than the rest of us in May, because that's just the way the cookie crumbles. According to astrologer Linda Furia…
By Kaitlyn Wylde

Hillary Clinton Says She's Ready To Fight Like A Republican — EXCLUSIVE

Hillary Clinton Is Not Going Away Quietly. Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into The Night? Unlike Losers Before Her, Clinton Is Not Going Gently Into the Night. These headlines, which appeared in various news outlets over the course of the last…
By Catherine Thompson and Jenny Hollander

Here's The Very Best Time To Book Your Summer Vacation If You're Trying To Save Money

Summer is a great time to travel, for obvious reasons. The weather is better. Many offices are more lax about time off. If you have kids, they’re out of school. But there’s one very important element that makes summer not a great time to travel: Cost…
By Emma McGowan
)}