A short history of ice skating

So many of today’s winter sports—bobsledding, alpine and Nordic skiing, and ice skating too—are considered posh activities owing to the often high costs of enjoying the activity. Unlike summer sports, winter sports require pricey clothes just to keep one warm and often have a little more equipment than just a ball or two. It’s somewhat ironic that almost all of these sports are essentially refined and codified versions of how pre-20th century peasantry got from place to place in the wintertime. And this is no less true of ice skating.
Although it’s impossible to say when and where ice skating was developed—it was mostly likely developed in almost every places with lakes that freeze over in winter and can support the weight of several humans—but some of the earliest evidence comes from Finland, from approximately 1000 BCE. The number of lakes in Finland means that people were actually able to go from place to place quicker in winter than by means of ice skate. The earliest skates were jaw bones of grazing animals like horses and cows attached to the feet. Unlike the way we skate today people used a long stick to propel themselves across a frozen like in very much the same way that a kayaker uses his or her paddle. One notable difference between then and now is that modern skates cut into the ice and these early bone skates merely slide across the top of it.
As early as the 13th century, coincidentally round the time of the foundation of Amsterdam the Dutch added edges to the bottom of skates that improved control and manoeuvrability. The design was so effective that little has changed in the last 800 years.
Unlike sports like football as we know it, ice skating as a long history in Britain. It was imported from the Netherlands (round the same time that many new ideas and sports were being imported into Britain, including tennis). The earliest ice skating club to be established was most likely in 1642, though it must be said that the evidence is not conclusive. We do know for certain that from the 1740s ice skating clubs were forming across the UK with the aristocracy being particularly fond.
However, it wasn’t the upper classes that first popularised the past-time as a sport as was the case with tennis, for example. In the early 1800s it was workers and farmers that held the first races, often one village challenging another.
From there the sport blossomed and its popularity flourished over the years. Today its so popular to find online free sports picks on websites that offer opportunities for people to bet on the outcome of the popular sport.
It’s true that the first competitive events tended to be primarily about speed, but during the Romantic Era in the late 1800s ice skating developed alongside speed skating a performative sport. From there is has gone on to become on of the most popular (and most ancient) of winter sports.