Starting a winter sport can cost thousands of dollars. In general, the faster and higher altitude the sport, the more protective equipment and special facilities that are needed. According to Quartz’s analysis of Winter Olympics’ sports, those with less than $1,000 entry costs include cross-country skiing, curling, and skating disciplines. Other sports cost a minimum of $1,000 to $3,000 or more just to get started.
Sports like skeleton, luge, ski jumping, and bobsleigh require tracks that are often only found in former Olympic host cities. In the US, that means Park City, Utah or Lake Placid, New York. There aren’t any bobsled or skeleton tracks in Africa, Australia, or South America.
Travel costs make these sports more expensive. Getting started in the Olympic disciplines of snowboarding and alpine skiing incur costs at resorts. Cross-country skiing can be done at resorts but is also possible in public parks and trails as weather allows. In colder climates, figure skating can be done on public ponds when they freeze and is often taught in groups, which keeps costs low.
We estimated the minimum cost each sport would require for entry-level participation. These are off-the-couch estimates not the cost of high-end equipment used by experienced athletes and Olympians.
To calculate the entry-level cost of a sport we started with the basic equipment needed to play each sport. Online prices were compared to find the most affordable cost for each piece of equipment. Facility fees were included if the sport couldn’t be performed at home or in a readily available, free public space like a park. We sought out the cheapest possible locations to participate in each sport which ranged from free and fee-based public facilities to private gyms and clubs. Cost estimates aim to reflect up-front expenses when starting a sport. While we included annual costs for facilities, we did not include the annual costs for equipment replacement such as curling brooms or hockey pucks.