The History Of Ice Skates

By: Derek Both

Ice skates have come a long way since the concept was first thought of thousands of years ago. This is probably a good thing when you think about what the oldest pair of ice skates to have been found are made of. Dated back to about 3000 B.C. the first pair of skates were made from the leg bones of large animals. Holes were then made at each end and leather straps were used to tie them on. Everyone is probably no doubt relieved that a few progressions have been made over the years.

It wasn't until the 14th Century that the Dutch started to use wooden platform skates with flat iron bottom runners to glide over the ice in. The ice skates were attached to the skater's shoes with leather straps and poles were used to help the skater move around. However, further progress was made in 1500 when they added a narrow metal double edged blade which meant that people could glide with their feet and didn't need the poles anymore.

Not much progress was made in the world of ice skates until 1848 when the first all steel clamp was invented. This was shortly followed by the introduction of the two plate all metal blade. The blade was attached directly to the boots which made dance moves, jumps and spins possible. In the 1870s the first toe picks were added to ice skates which made toe pick jumps possible for the first time.

The only problem with ice skates at this point was the fact that they were not very comfortable so could not be worn for very long. This was changed in about 1859 when James Whelpley from Canada developed a skate that was well suited for long distance skating. This meant that there were a range of new possibilities for ice skates. People could now enjoy skating more for pleasure, games could be played in them and activities such as figure skating took off.

Ice skates were revolutionised in 1914 when a blade maker from Minnesota, USA invented the first closed toe blade which was made from one piece of steel. This made skates lighter and stronger which was particularly helpful in sports such as figure skating and ice hockey.

There is no doubt about the fact that ice skates are now more comfortable and easier to wear than they were thousands of years ago. It is because of this that ice skating is now such a popular activity whether people are professionals or just doing it for fun.

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