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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Zajdel, PhD

What Makes a Real Figure Skater?

Updated: Jan 1

When you think “figure skater,” what comes to mind? Probably someone on TV at Nationals or the Olympics.

In figure skating, it seems like there is a stereotype of what makes a “real” figure skater. This can include:

  • Consistently landing double (or triple, or quad) jumps

  • Being lean while having a small body (height and size)

  • Being flexible

  • Being able to dance/move your body elegantly

  • Having a strong off-ice routine

  • Having an expensive and sparkly dress or costume

  • Skating 5+ times a week

  • Regularly competing

  • Having several coaches

  • Winning medals

That is a lot of criteria, and the list goes on!

Does anyone actually fit that?! Maybe the people on the Olympics do, but they make up 0.00007%* of people who actually skate. So, does that mean the rest of us are not “real” skaters?


A way to reframe who a “real” figure skater is to make the sport more inclusive could be:

  • Someone who wears figure skates on the ice

  • Someone who has learned/is learning elements of figure skating (edges, spirals, spins, jumps, turns, etc.)

  • Someone who loves the sport of figure skating

That’s it! If those apply to you, you’re a “real” figure skater.

Keep this in mind the next time you compare yourself to others or worry that others will doubt your ability/identity as a figure skater.

*I got this number by dividing 16 (the number of US athletes who went to the Olympics in 2022) by 222,890 (the number of US Figure Skating members in 2022)

Want to work with a sport psychologist to identify your own self-doubts and gain confidence? 


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