Monday, 15 June 2009

Skating vs School

There have been a number of skaters recently who had decided to sit out the upcoming season to devote themselves to their studies (Brittney Rizo, Katrina Hacker) as well as some who have prioritized skating over school (Emily Hughes). Many have, and continue, to manage both (Alissa Czisny). This poses a very interesting question - what should get priority? It's difficult to have a proper college experience if you're constantly training, and in the same way it's hard to train properly, especially when you get to National level or higher, if you're constantly having to catch up on assignments. So it's seems like a natural decision to take time off from school or work part-time/from home to get in the necessary amount of training. This technique has worked for a number of skaters; both Michelle Kwan and Sarah Hughes have recently achieved university degrees at 28 and 24 years old respectively.

However, does this all-to-simple conclusion actually hold a large number of drawbacks? By being at the rink whilst all their peers are at school, elite skaters are missing out on some valuable experiences, and some might say a proper childhood. Going to school is could be deemed too be necessary for them to have some sort of escape from the sport and to associate with people who aren't skaters.

Obviously it depends on a skaters' circumstances, but if you were an elite skater (or the parent of one) would you take the route of Hacker or Hughes? Personally I would be more inclined to do as Emily Hughes does; her attempts to balance skating and a full college course last season had very little success, and school will always be there in the future, whilst the probability of being a successful skater declines with age.

Image from


Lesley said...

You know, I've always wondered how much Charlie White, Alex Shibutani, Evan Bates, and Trevor Young (all elite U.S. ice dancers, all roommates, all attending the University of Michigan) ever see of the inside of a classroom.

But I suspect that singles skaters might have to train longer hours? I mean, Matt Savoie deferred law school. Armin Mahbanoozadeh deferred Dartmouth. Loren Galler-Rabinowitz deferred Harvard. Curran Oi put skating on hold to attend MIT. These people have all medalled at US Nats. David Mitchell was a full-time student at Tufts throughout his eligible career, but he didn't achieve any more success on the international level than the abovementioned (he was Loren's partner).

Personally if it was me I would gladly take the 50% chance of have a 2:1 in hand in three years' time, than take the chance of winning no medals, making no money and maybe suffering a career-ending injury to boot. Also, age is on the side of the men, who peak much later than women. I mean, how many of us can afford to take two years off to be Mormon missionaries like ice dancer Chris Orbzansky (and then come back!)?

Anyway, sorry for rambling on in your comment section. Great blog - keep up the good work!

Kate said...

That's not rambling at all, that was a great comment, thank you very much! I have to agree, I would definitely take the risk too, and yeah I agree, women have to try and get everything done earlier, which I guess is why you get cases like Emily's.

Also, wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall in that house?