History of Speed Skating

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The origins of speed skating can be traced back to more than 1000 years to Scandinavian and the northern region of Europe. At that time the natives used to travel the distance on the frozen rivers, streams, and lakes by addition of bones to what they call their shoes.

Later in the 16th century people actually started to look at skating as a fun and as a sports activity. In the late 16th century a Scotsman designed a unique skate having iron blades. It was this design of the iron bladed skates that eventually made skating and speed skating popular. The Skating Club of Edinburg, the first officially recorded skating club was born in 1642. By 1763 the world witnessed the first officially held speed skating race.

The race was organized by the members of National Ice Skating Association. In Holland people started to tour the rivers which connected the eleven cities of Friesland. This challenging race eventually turned into Elfstedentocht. By mid 19th century speed skating became very popular in North America. The people over there started to love the sport. They went on further and developed the unique all steel blade which was not only lighter but also sharper than the previous one. The Netherlands once again came back into the picture in 1889 and organized the world’s very first championship. Subsequently later in the year 1892 International Skating Union (ISU) was born. By 1900s skating and speed skating had grown into popularity and had carved out a league of its own.

The evolution of skates:

Bone skates

Northern Russia and Scandinavia provided us with the earliest forms of known skates which are predicted to be at least 1000 years old. It was found out that these skates were made from the bones of the animals. The bones of cows and horses were frequently used. Further examination of the skates revealed that it was polished from one side and contained a hole on the other. The hole was used to tie the skates to the feet of the skater.

Wooden skates

There is no real evidence of wooden skates as they may have not survived. These were mentioned in the epics and sagas of the Scandinavian during the period from 10th to 13th century. It described skating on wooden plates.

Iron blades

Slowly by the sixteen century the popularity of speed skating had reached Scotland and England. In 1592 a Scotsman invented skates which contained iron blades. By the year 1642 the Skating Club of Edinburgh was formed.

Skates with boots

Almost all the early speed skates contained a blade that was affixed to the skater’s foot. After the invention of metal blades it was attached to a wooden platform that was affixed to the skater’s foot.

Steel blades

The popularity of speed skating grew in the 19th century in Northern America. The first steel blades were developed here. These skates were both sharper and stronger.

Clap skates

These speed skates are affixed to the toe of the skater’s shoe with the help of hinge but not attached at the heel.

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