This is a question I hear people ask all the time: “is it too late for me to start figure skating”?
Here, I would like to answer this question and share my opinion on this topic.
Let’s be honest: if you are 13 or older and you are just thinking to start figure skating, it’s unlikely you’ll make it to the Olympics.
There is simply not a lot of examples of skaters that started skating this late and made it to the highest international level.
Figure skating is a very young sport and it’s normal when 15-year old girls win at the Olympic Games (like Tara Lipinski in 1998 or Alina Zagitova in 2018). In general, in competitive figure skating, anyone over 25 is considered a veteran and most of the skaters quit competing well before they turn 30.
In one of the other articles, I explained what is the best age to start figure skating and when most Olympic champions first stepped on the ice – at 4-6 years old.
But it doesn’t mean there is absolutely no chance to get high results at competitions if you are one of the late starters – it is possible and it’s up to you, your physical capabilities and how hard you are willing to work.
You will have to work harder than other skaters at the rink; you will have to skate more than others to catch up.
Also, it is very important to find a right coach so you learn a proper technique from the start and there won’t be a situation when you learn an element with the wrong technique which will become a set back later.
For example, let’s say, you are just starting to learn a single Lutz jump. It’s critical to learn a proper technique from the start – a takeoff on Lutz jump should be from a clear outside edge. Later, when you’ll be moving on to double jumps, the technique shouldn’t change.
It takes a lot of time and it’s extremely hard to change the technique after you learned something and you got used to it. Coming back to our example, if you learned from the start to do Lutz the wrong way (inside edge on takeoff), later on, it’s not an easy fix. These little details are very important and they have to be addressed from the start as you just starting to learn an element.
I few skating friends of mine started skating at 11-12 years old, they got to a pretty high level and later were able to work as professional ice show skaters with Disney on Ice and Willie Bietak Productions on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. It could be a good motivation and a realistic goal – to join a professional ice show, make some money and travel around the world.
Even if you don’t make it to the Olympics, there are other goals that could be achieved. It’s still possible to learn triple jumps if you start skating late, even at 13-15. It’s going to be a huge challenge to learn triples if you start even later at 16-18 years old but I feel like all double jumps including the double Axel is more of a realistic goal in that case.
But once again, it will take a long time, maybe 5-6 years until you’ll be able to perform some harder tricks; you’ll have to skate almost every day, you’ll have to stay motivated and focused even when things don’t work out – that’s the only way to do it.
Is it ever too late to start figure skating? I don’t believe so. Figure skating is a beautiful sport, it’s extremely hard and very technical and that’s the reason why it attracts so many people around the world.
It attracts those that don’t look for something easy.
Some people might learn new things very quickly, for others it might take a little bit longer. It’s absolutely normal and there is nothing wrong with it. The main focus should be set on your goal and you should step by step get closer even if these steps are little.
I hope you found this article useful and it helped you in one way or another. If you have any questions or comments, please feel welcome to comment below this post. I’ll be happy to respond as soon as I get a chance.
Happy skating, friends!