As much as professional skiers enjoy skiing for the people they meet, the places they travel, and the experiences they have, there is usually one facet of skiing lurking in the shadows. Money is an incentive to race fast, as well as an impediment to racing fast. This unfortunate catch-22 can be stressful, but is alleviated with the assistance of foundations such as the Birkie. I feel so lucky to have their backing and support, and along with my other donors and sponsors only have to worry about the racing fast part. So… while I’m talking about what an amazing organization the Birkie is, take a second and consider donating to their fundraiser. Any donation will help Honor the Legacy and Ensure the Future of this great race and organization. Together we have to keep the fever running hot!
When I got to week “M,” the first Super Tours had finished, and the first weekend of World Cup racing was in the books. So this got me thinking- how much money can a skier make in prize money each year? Justyna Kowalczyk landed at the top of the earning list, with her prize money totaling 290,458 U.S. dollars. On the men’s side, Petter Northug earned 217,441 U.S. dollars. And that is without additional money from sponsors for product advertising, win schedules, and special appearances. For individual World Cup starts, prize money starts at 15,348 U.S. dollars, and drops to 255 U.S. dollars for 10th place.
On the domestic circuit, Super Tour races award 750 U.S. dollars to the winner, with prize money dropping to 1oo U.S. dollars for 6th place. The Birkie, a stop on the Worldloppet, boasts a 7,500 U.S. dollar prize for the top male and female in the 51K skate race. Plus, new this year the classic champion will receive 1,000 U.S. dollars. Ending the season ranked number one for the Worldloppet adds an additional 9,106 U.S. dollars to the champions bank account.
A year of ski racing professionally costs anywhere from 20,000 U.S. dollars to 30,000 U.S. dollars, dependent on the amount of traveling and racing an athlete takes on. For World Cup athletes, traveling and racing for official periods (official training and racing days) is covered for red group athletes by the Federation International de Ski (FIS). Red group athletes are those athletes ranked in the top 30 on the World Cup distance or sprint list. Outside of that quota, national governing bodies or individual athletes must pay their way.
To summarize, there is money in skiing to be had. But what can also be said is that most skiers don’t ski for the money. Instead, skiers are a unique group that simply love adventure and are constantly seeking improvement. Investing in skiing might not always help build your 401K, but it will absolutely help build your character. Plus as Henry David Thoreau put it, “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” From this vantage, skiers are the wealthiest people in the world.