Ice skating has been alive for centuries. Early communities found the temptation of the frozen ponds enticing and discovered ways to ride the ice gracefully. Soon, games were brought to the past time. Hockey and figure skating grew into international sensations. Kids who ice skate will be fascinated by some fun facts and a peek into the history of their favorite sports on ice.
1. The First Ice Skates and Origin of Ice Skating
Most historians believe ice skating originated in Scandinavia in early 1000 BCE. The first skates were made from boots with hard substances, such as the rib bones of elk or oxen, attached to the bottom. Eventually, the metal runner was introduced and attached to the boot with a wooden base. The whole boot was wrapped onto the foot with leather straps. The boot offered a base for skating, but no support for the ankle or calf.
2. Ice Skating History
As skating grew in popularity, the skate was improved. E.W. Bushnell created the all-metal skate in 1850 in Philadelphia, eliminating the need for the wooden base. A toe pick was added in the early 1900s, and is still used today on the figure skating or general skating boot. Hockey skates are firmer with shorter blades. The blades are curved to allow for quicker turns. Skating was practiced in the Netherlands as early as the Middle Ages and spread as people began navigating to nearby lands. England children skated on frozen lakes in the 17th century, with the first skating club formed in Scotland in 1742. The recreational sport then came to America in the 1740s.
3. Figure Skating Championships and Hockey Games
Figure skating became a sensation in Russia, when the first championship was held in St. Petersburg. Since it has been popularized, figure skating has become an Olympic sport, with choreographers, special skating moves and many champions. Hockey has been played for nearly 4,000 years, and has moved through many countries. The English version of hockey in the 17th and 18th centuries was quite barbaric, with villages competing against each other. More than 100 men were on each team, all trying to prove their manhood in a battle on ice. Since these early times, hockey has been organized into games between nations and an Olympic sport.
4. Famous Ice Skaters
A few famous ice skaters include speed skaters such as Bonnie Blair and Apolo Anton Ohno. Both skaters won American Olympic medals for their skill and speed. David Pelletier and Dick Button won medals in the figure skating categories. Each won for their countries, Canada and America, respectively. Madge Cave Syers was an English skater and the first woman who competed at the highest international level. Other notable names throughout history include Oksana Baiul (Ukraine), Scott Hamilton (America), Sven Kramer (Netherlands), Ulrich Salchow (Sweden) and Yang Yang (China).