When we think about tough men and women in sports, boxing, mixed martial arts, wrestling, football, hockey and other similar sports come to mind, but seldom do we consider figure skaters to be one of them. While full contact sports like boxing, hockey and football are indeed played by some of the toughest men and women in the world, there are certain aspects of figure skating that even surpass the aforementioned forms of sport in terms of physical and mental strain. So, without further delay, let’s take a look at what makes it one of the toughest sports in the world.
Training for Life
Figure skaters train regularly for as long as they skate professionally and most do so even after they retire. However, the thing is that figure skaters begin training from a very young age and by young, I mean age two or even younger in some cases! As they grow older, training for as much as five or six hours every day of the week isn’t uncommon either.
Those are Some Thin Boots!
Imagine the poise necessary to balance one’s body on a blade that’s just 4mm in thickness while standing on ice, and then consider the fact that they skate, jump, land, spin, dance, rotate and do so much more while wearing those super sharp figure skates. Now you probably have a rough idea about just how much skill, balance and practice is necessary to do all this on a 4mm blade. Also, if the blades are not sharpened or changed regularly, the skater will be unable to do anything at all.
There’s a Lot of Pain Involved
Falls and injuries are more common for skaters than even pro footballers because it’s an essential part of learning a new move. While attempting the first double jump or while trying to learn that all important new move before a contest; figure skaters fall constantly. While they do get better at it and manage to avoid serious injury as they grow more experienced, there is always the looming danger of missing a step and dislocating a shoulder or breaking the hip due to a moment’s lapse in concentration. Also, when figure skaters fall, they fall on ice without pads to protect them. A fall on ice is similar to a fall on concrete and definitely more painful than falling on the ground.
The Training is Tremendously Hard and Demands Serious Sacrifice
You need to be fit, muscular, flexible and graceful at the same time in order to make it as a pro figure skater. The training is so demanding that there have actually been debates on how much of a stress it adds to the life of a student. The training literally takes over your life as you work with coaches, special trainers and your partner to prepare for competitions. It isn’t easy to have strength, balance, flexibility and grace at the same time without making some huge sacrifices in your personal life.
Once someone gets to know the realities behind the athletes who are floating and jumping around on ice with perfect grace and a smile on their faces, they begin to realize just how tough the reality of figure skating is. Keep in mind that we haven’t even mentioned how tough and demanding some of the moves in figure skating are because that’s a whole different story altogether.