The origin and history of ice skating is still subject to debate. Some contend that it was invented in the 1400s while some insist that it goes thousands of years back.
The Sport in 14th Century Europe
The reason for the date disagreement lies in the definition. Today the activity is considered a form of sport and leisure. Viewed in this regard, it can be said the first skates were invented in the 14th century in Finland. The skates were comprised of steel. The bottom parts were also sharpened. With minor exceptions, this concept has stayed in designs today.
No single inventor can be credited with making it. But what is clear in the history of ice skating is that it became popular with laymen and royals. One account states that King James II of England became enamored with the sport after a visit to the Netherlands. Upon his return, the sport quickly became a hit in England too.
Spread in Popularity
There is ample evidence that the sport / leisure activity became widespread in Europe. There are numerous paintings from the 14th to 15th century depicting people engaged in the activity.
It is also a fact that the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II had a skating rink created for his own use. The construction contributed to its popularity. The history of ice skating is filled with accounts of royals participating in the sport. Among them were King Louis XVI of France, Napoleon III and the members of the House of Stuart. In France the sport was initially popular with the royals, but spread among laymen eventually.
The Oldest Ice Skates
There are however, those who contend that the first skates were invented in 3,000 BC. Some years back a discovery was made in a lake in Switzerland. They were skates composed of animal leg bones. There were openings on both sides. There is also evidence that leather straps were applied to it. However it is unlikely that they were used for sport. More likely it was used to cross lakes. In this account of the history of ice skating, the device was developed out of necessity.
The 1600s Onward
Whatever its origin, there was no denying its popularity. By 1642 the Skating Club of Edinburgh was created. In 1763, competitions were being held in England on a regular basis. By the middle of the 1800s, the sport had made its way to America. The first world championship competition was held in 1889 in the Netherlands.
Although steel had been used in the device before, it wasn’t until 1848 that an all metal clamp was devised. This was created in Philadelphia in the US. By the 1870s, an artificial ice rink had already been set up in London. In 1914, closed toe blades were created. Additional innovations would make it lighter and easier to use.
The history of ice skating began in cold weather countries but it has gone to achieve popularity worldwide. Today, there are artificial rinks in various parts of the world so people can enjoy the activity even without snow.