‘I will always be a figure skater, that is who I am’: Three former figure skaters’ experiences of life after sport

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för kost- och idrottsvetenskap

Author: Fanny Kuhlin; [2016-08-16]

Keywords: Retirement; Elite sport; Figure skating; Narrative;

Abstract: Retirement in elite sport has been researched from different perspectives, and could be seen aseither a transition through phases or movement within social contexts. Athletes often experiencetheir retirement as difficult, including feelings of void, confusion and decrease of self-esteem.However, the outcome of retirement varies depending on the individual athlete, and could evenlead to an increase of life satisfaction. Women’s artistic gymnastics and figure skating is bothartistic sport with similar characteristics. Research into retirement from women’s artisticgymnastics indicates that gymnasts may experience further difficulties post retirement becausethese characteristics. There are no scientific literature regarding retirement and life after a figureskating career.The aim of this thesis is to address the lack of knowledge about figure skaters’ retirementexperiences. To do this, using a narrative approach, three former elite figure skaters wereinterviewed. Douglas & Carless’ (2006) performance narrative theory was used to createunderstanding of the three skaters’ careers. All three skaters adopted the performance narrativethroughout their career. Post retirement, the skaters experienced confusion without the figureskating status. They also experienced void, and searching their way back to the ice. 1-2 yearsafter retirement, figure skating was still an important part of the skaters’ lives, both mentallyand physically. Further research is needed to create a broader understanding of how figureskaters’ experience elite sport retirement.

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