Is figure skating just a fashion show on ice or a serious competitive sport? Hours of training and practice are just a few of the elements contenders such as Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner have faced to earn their spot in the Olympics. Similar to a model vying for the prized strut on the runway, figure skaters must pay close attention to style and fashion.
Aside from the possibility of winning an Olympic medal by exhibiting their skill in triple axels and twirls, the perfect selection of the figure skating outfit requires almost as much effort as practicing a spin. It all becomes a fashion show of sorts, promoting the smile and poise that will please judges and audiences while sparking the interest of advertisers.
The years of training start very young for a serious figure skating participant with ambitions of winning an Olympic gold medal. Hours of pricey lessons are necessary to master the status of even being considered as a competitor. Families sacrifice up to $1500 a year for lessons to train the young skater, with fees rising higher as the goals and skills increase. Often starting at tender ages of four and five, the amount of time and money spent may or may not produce the desired outcome.
While figure skating can lead to becoming a professional in the sport, the employment opportunities are honed in on teaching, coaching, managing an ice rink or hopefully becoming a star with Disney on Ice. Endorsements from advertisers is where the real money spins as past Olympians have done quite well. Peggy Fleming, winner of the gold medal in 1968 promoted Trident chewing gum. Dorothy Hamill, the 1976 Olympian star with the winning hair-cut, has enjoyed royalties from Clairol and the exercise machine Sit-N-Cycle.
Enduring injuries, stress and emotional anguish all compute into dollars over the years of a figure skater. Constant strain on muscles and joints can result in mega dollars for steroid shots and chiropractic visits. Overuse of hips and knees can promote long lasting relationships with doctors and therapists. Pressure from family, coaches, fans and judges can last much longer than the four or five minutes on the ice in a fancy outfit.
Figure skaters have to be in shape both mentally and physically relying on proper hydration, appropriate amounts of protein and immune boosting diets including massive amounts of fruits and vegetables. It is a very disciplined lifestyle with the high hope of scoring a few points above the competitor. Timing is everything when it comes to the routine of a figure skater. Sleep and social outings have to be in check as much as time spent on the ice.
Skaters can fork out as much as $5000 for an outfit that shines equally to the amazing feats as they do in the short or long programs. Averaging around $3000, the fashion of figure skaters definitely plays into to their style, music and mood of the routine. Little sheaths of skin-colored fabric attached to a sparkly suit, make for an illusion of a form fitted fashion statement as custom designed boots and blades have to fit just right.
All the extras both women and men go through to present themselves in a positive light on the ice are costly with no guarantee of recouping the dollars in the years to come. Just as Johnny Weir, two time Olympic competitor and winner of numerous US championships and titles was great on the ice, his fashion statement is what keeps him going today. Now a commentator on the sport, the show must go on with flair and finesse. Figure skaters are skilled, trained athletes, but their fashion on the ice may well be what pays the bills in the years to come.
By: Roanne FitzGibbon
Stop Sports Injuries