Bountiful show helps ice skaters cover high cost of sport

May 13 2012 - 10:41pm

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BOUNTIFUL -- Ice skating is an expensive sport. Figure skaters spend thousands of dollars a year on ice time, coaches, ice skates, costumes and travel for competitions.

To help with those expenses for skaters in the Utah Figure Skating Club, based in Bountiful, the South Davis Recreation Center hosted a fundraising ice show last weekend with performances from all of the club's skaters.

For skaters who spend most of their time training or competing, the spring show was a nice break.

"It was really an opportunity to showcase the fun side, where they could let loose and show off the talent we have here in Davis County," said Michelle Thomson, event coordinator for the club.

Several of the skaters recently competed in the Utah Winter Games and received gold and silver medals, with many of the skaters having also placed at regional and junior national ice-skating competitions.

"We have future champions being trained right here in Utah," Thomson said.

Skating as a champion comes with a significant price tag. Each year, skaters go through a pair of skates, ranging from $600 to $1,000, with the blades an additional cost starting at $300.

Thomson said skates are costly because, when skaters land hard during jumps and tricks, their foot is in an unnatural position and needs an excellent support structure.

In time, though, their ankles break down the boot or the skater outgrows the pair, so they have to buy new skates on a regular basis.

Skaters who want additional training for spins, jumps or artistic expression pay even more. Many even invest in off-ice training, such as yoga or ballet, to enhance their performances.

Then the skaters have to be ready for the competitions with outfits that cost hundreds of dollars, registration costs for competitions and any travel expenses, including the expense of bringing their coach along.

By the time they're done, ice skaters are likely to spend at least $10,000 a year on their sport.

Thomson, whose daughter also trains competitively, said the benefits far outweigh the cost.

"For my daughter and a lot of the skaters, it's a place where they can express their own creativity, learn skills and a lot of life lessons -- the best one being that, every time you fall, you have to get back up," she said.

"The self-esteem they acquire is huge. It's a competitive sport, and you learn how to buck it up sometimes."

Young skaters have only a minute and a half to impress the judges, so they quickly learn how to be comfortable with what they're doing. Skating becomes a part of their identity, Thomson said.

Madeline White, 17, of Kaysville, has been skating for 10 years and spends 10 hours per week training on the ice with at least eight lessons. Even though it is a costly venture, for her, it's all about the learning process.

"There is a satisfaction I get when I accomplish new jumps, which makes all of the hours spent worth it," she said. "There are very few people out there that can do it, since it is such a dying sport."

Her mom, Terie White, who said they get some financial help from her parents, said the cost is worth it.

"You can't even describe the feeling to watch your child shine," she said. "It is more satisfying than anything. They transform into someone that is confident, happy and well-adjusted."

The Utah Figure Skating Club hopes to make skating more affordable by offering group lessons, theater on ice and synchronized teams.

Click here if interested in donating to help the skaters cover their expenses.

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