The History of Ice Skating

Historians generally agree that ice skating developed in Europe a few thousand years ago. However, it is still undecided when and where ice skates first came to be used.

Early History in Europe

Experts believe that the earliest ice skating happened in southern Finland four millennia ago in order to save energy during the winter months. It was not so much an activity as it was a means of transport. Originally, skates were only sharpened, flattened bone that are affixed to the bottom of the foot. Skaters originally glided on top of the ice.

Skating as we know it today came about when T a steel blade with sharpened edges was used. Skates now cut into the ice instead of gliding on top of it. The Dutch are credited for adding edges to ice skates in the 13th or 14th century.

Popularity and Clubs

From the Netherlands, ice skating came to Britain when James II came back from his exile and introduce the sport to the aristocracy. The first organized skating club was the Edinburgh Skating Club, formed in the 1740’s. Participation in skating was mostly limited to the members of the upper class. However, by the mid19th century, ice skating turned into a popular activity among the British upper and middle classes.

Ice Skating as a Sport

Skating eventually became popular as a recreational activity, a method of transport, and as a spectator sport in The Fens in England for people from all socio-economic classes. In the winter time, skating matches were held in towns and villages all over the Fens. Men, and even women and children, would compete for prizes of money, clothing or food. The winners of local matches would then participate in the grand or championship matches together with skaters from across the Fens for cash prizes in front of a huge crowd of spectators.

Ice Dancing

Jackson Haines is the father of modern figure skating. In 1865, he invented the two-plate, all-metal blade, which he tied directly to his boots. These allowed him to incorporate a host of ballet and dance moves into his skating. After he added the first toe pick in the 1870’s, jumps also became possible for modern figure skaters.