Touring gives top figure skaters a second career on ice

By Emily Pacenti
Touring gives top figure skaters a second career on ice
U.S. ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White perform during their dance free dance during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. The duo won the gold medal. File Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI | License Photo

April 1 (UPI) -- With the competitive figure-skating season coming to a close, Team USA Olympians and other top skaters take to the ice on tour.

Stars On Ice runs through late May, featuring some of the star skaters from the 2018 Winter Games, including Mirai Nagasu and Nathan Chen, along with well-known favorites like 2014 Olympic champion ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White.


Davis and White spoke to UPI about the importance of touring and the role that shows like Stars On Ice play in their careers.

Davis, 31, and White, 30, won the gold medal in ice dancing for Team USA at the Sochi Winter Games. They retired from competition in 2017. While Davis pursues a degree in anthropology from the University of Michigan and White adjusts to married life with a child, they continue to spend most of their time skating.

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"It's the potential to earn a living, whether it is paying for coaching, for skating, for costumes, training leading into Olympic Games," Davis said. "It's an incredible opportunity to be able to support yourself and earn a living."


"It's a very expensive sport when you've dedicated your entire life to it," added White, who's skated alongside Davis since 1997 and continues to tour with her as a team. "The coaching fees and the equipment, the outfits. It's a lot of expenses to cover and for the amateur skaters to be able to offset that cost by being a part of a show is fantastic."

The median price of a figure-skating costume is $3,000 -- not including the skates -- and competitive skaters will need several. They dress for two required competitive programs and will often have an additional exhibition program for post-competition galas. As Olympic ice dancers, Davis and White would need at least six costumes a year.

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Coaching fees can range from $65 to $120 an hour, or around $40,000 a year. This doesn't include the cost of supplemental choreographers that Olympic skaters often hire. That runs about $10,000 a program.

In addition, there is off-ice training, such as ballet, gymnastics and physical therapy, plus other staff and travel costs.

In 2014, Davis and White were coached by Marina Zoueva and choreographed by Dancing With the Stars' Derek Hough in addition to So You Think You Can Dance's Alex Wong. Now as exclusively exhibition skaters, the pricetag on coaching and choreography may not be as high, but it's still an expense.

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Stars On Ice is one of many core opportunities for skaters to keep performing.

"Now there's so many different directions that we're getting pulled, but it's a part of the job now to support more than just myself as an athlete," White said.""Now I get to do it as a dad and a husband. That makes it really special, too."

Davis and White said figure skaters are lucky to have the ice shows to follow up their Olympic careers.

"There's no other sport that has that outlet where you can interact with your sport in a totally different way," White said.

"I love competing of course, but there's something really different and special about skating just for the joy of it and for entertainment purposes," Davis said of the duo's experience with Stars On Ice. "When you're competing, you're so focused on tech proficiencies that you don't always focus on the performance above all. It's a wonderful opportunity to grow as a performer."

The Stars On Ice tour includes stops all over the United States through May 20, with tickets still available for many venues.

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