A Short History of Ice Skating

 By: Tauqeer Hassan
Ice skating is common in many countries throughout the world. It is done in manmade ice rings although cold countries like Canada and Sweden keep their tradition alive by skating on frozen lakes and rivers. It was around for several thousands of years according to archeological findings. It was present as a recreational activity and as means of transportation.

The very early form of ice skating involved skates made from bones to slide on frozen water. They were conceptually very basic and consisted on a flat surface for gliding on ice. The Dutch in the early 13th century brought the advancement of adding blades to the skates.

After the invention of blades, there were no further changes in the ice skates. The much later ones consisted of attaching blades to the soles of specific shoes. These are known as the modern skates having the primary characteristics of increased sturdiness and balance.

The most artistic and popular form of this sport is the figure skating. It is a combination of skating, dancing and gymnastics. It was present since hundreds of years in its elementary form because of the fact that ice skating for a long time was strictly reserved for Europe's elite class. In the middle of 19th century, an American named Jackson Haines revolutionized the art by adding a variety of energetic and bold moves to it.

Haines's style became trendy and helped him in winning the US championships before he had moved to Europe. In Austria, his new form of figure skating caught the attention and was developed into a complete sport having a complex rules. Figure skating then arrived in America as a true international sport becoming more institutionalized. Today, an international federation governs it and is in fact a very demanding sport. Many Olympic skaters have been skating throughout their lives.

Amateur status was of a lot importance in the figure skating. In 1995, Olympic ice skating was extremely disciplined without having financial compensations. This resulted in many skaters cutting their careers short and joined the more profitable entertainment industry. This prompted the international federation to change the rules allowing the figure skaters to earn money. Figure skating is a symbol of Winter Olympics and is still very popular in the world of entertainment.

Other related forms of this sport also entered Winter Olympics like short-track speed skating, speed skating and of course ice hockey which is popular in North America, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
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