The history of ice skating began 4,000 years ago in Finland. The earliest skates were strapped on the feet and people glided along. Who invented it, and for what purpose is unknown. Its later history, however, is well known.
Evolution of the Ice Skates
It was around the 13th century when steel blades were incorporated into the skates. This allowed the skate to cut through the ice. Some historians in fact assert that its proper history started in 14th century Europe. Aside from the steel blades, the lower parts were sharpened. It’s still not clear as to who came up with these innovations.
In any event, the history of ice skating indicate that skates became widely used. Both royals and common folk found the idea of rolling on skates enjoyable as a sport. One account states that King James II popularized the sport. He was on a visit to the Netherlands when he saw people ice skating.
Ice Skating Becomes Popular
By the start of the Renaissance, ice skating had spread throughout the continent. Several artworks from the period show people on skates. During this time, icing rinks began appearing. Emperor Rudolf II had a rink specially built for him.
Other royals who enjoyed the sport were French king Louis XVI and Napoleon III. As the history of ice skating evolved in Europe, the Stuart family also became enamored with the activity.
In certain parts of Europe, the activity was restricted to the aristocrats or royalty. But eventually ice skating reached down to the masses. Without question, this development was crucial in spreading the popularity of ice skating as a whole.
By the late 1500s, ice skating had become well known throughout the continent. In 1642, the Skating Club of Edinburgh was created. It became very popular with the laymen and would soon be followed by others.
Although it began as a leisurely activity, it eventually became a sporting competition. By the 1760s, several contests were being held. These events would prove very popular in England.
As the British made their way into America, they carried the sport with them. Throughout the 1800s, ice skating slowly became popular in the US. The sport had attained a great deal of popularity that by 1889, a world championship event was conducted in the Netherlands. It was the first in the history of ice skating.
Evolution of the Ice Skates
The all metal clamp was invented in 1848 in Philadelphia. For several years this was the device used by skaters. During the 1870s, the artificial ice skate rink was already set up in England. Another innovation took place in 1914. It was the invention of the toe blades.
Since that time, numerous innovations have been introduced. Competition among companies has resulted in many types and variants sold. Today, one can also purchase helmets so accidents can be avoided when ice skating.
The origin and history of ice skating is still subject to discussion and debate. But its popularity in many parts of the world can no longer be questioned.