Martha’s reviews of Tessa and Scott However, they got me wondering: would it be possible to have another athlete like Tonya Harding again in elite skating? I.e. someone who lives in poverty making it to elite levelcompetition?

I watched the Tessa and Scott reality series in the last week. And it’s pretty intense just how many people are involved in their success - there’s a specialized coach for everything (transitions, edges, footwork, etc) in addition to their regular coach. Plus their physiotherapists, sport psychologists, personal trainers, dance trainers...

Suffice it to say, this was not Tonya Harding’s reality. She trained at the mall skating rink. She had a coach, but I strongly doubt she had all these extra specialists. I imagine that back in the 80s and 90s the industry of elite athlete trainers/coaches was much smaller, although it did exist in some capacity. I LOVED Ekaterina Gordeeva’s book My Sergei and read it a bunch of times in high school and she describes special camps and nutrition for elite athletes (which all ended after the collapse of the Soviet Union). Under the communist regime, if you were identified as having talent as an athlete, no matter your parent’s income, you would have access to experts because this was “your profession” that you were training for as a member of their socialist society. That’s why Oksana Baiul, an orphan with a difficult childhood full of poverty, was capable of reaching the level that she did. And that’s also why the Soviet Union was such a powerhouse - since ANYONE could have access to expert trainers, they had a huge pool of people to choose from, unlike here in North American where the cost of training for elite athlete’s is astronomical. Thus athlete’s in certain sports like figure skating usually come from the middle class and upward since the economics of training for the sport are so high to begin with (like all the costumes, equipment, and general aesthetic (i.e. whiteness) of the sport that leaves out a whole bunch of people from the get go)

It seems like nowadays, the price is much more expensive...I get that Tessa and Scott have sponsorships and that’s how they pay for all this, but they weren’t always sponsored. They moved to train in the US at the age of 15 or so and someone had to be footing the bill (i.e. their parents). In this day and age, would someone like Tonya Harding be able to skate reach the elite level? My answer would be no, but I was wondering if anyone here had any insight. It kinda bums me out when there are no scrappy upstarts represented. That the barriers of entry have skyrocketed to the point of making it impossible for a whole class of people who *might* have been able to make it 20 years ago impossible for them today.