Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ice skating is traveling on ice with skates, narrow (and sometimes parabolic) blade-like devices moulded into special boots (or, more primitively, without the boots, tied to regular footwear). People usually skate on frozen rivers and lakes and at skating rinks. It is mainly done for recreation and as a sport.

The first concrete mention of ice skating is found in a biography of Thomas Beckett written by his former clerk William Fitzstephen in about 1180. The book includes a description of London, with its popular sports.
When the great marsh that laps up against the northern walls of the city is frozen, large numbers of the younger crowd go there to play about on the ice... Others are more skilled at frolicking on the ice: they equip each of their feet with an animal's shin-bone, attaching it to the underside of their footwear; using hand-held poles reinforced with metal tips, which they periodically thrust against the ice, they propel themselves along as swiftly as a bird in flight or a bolt shot from a crossbow. But sometimes two, by accord, beginning far apart, charge each other from opposite directions and, raising their poles, strike each other with them. One or both are knocked down, not without injury, since after falling their impetus carries them off some distance and any part of their head that touches the ice is badly scratched and scraped. Often someone breaks a leg or an arm, if he falls onto it.
The sticks that Fitzstephen refers to were used for movement, as the primitive bone-made ice skates did not have sharp gliding edges like modern ice skates.

Earliest historical documentation
Adding edges to ice skates was invented by the Dutch in the 13th or 14th century. These ice skates were made of steel, with sharpened edges on the bottom to aid movement. The construction of modern ice skates has remained largely the same. The only other major change in ice skate design came soon after. Around the same time period as steel edges were added to ice skates, another Dutchman, a table maker's apprentice, experimented with the height to width ratio of the metal blade of the ice skates, producing a design that remains almost unaltered to this day. The user of the skates no longer needed to use sticks for propulsion, and movement on skates was now gives more freedom and more stablity.

Development of skates
In the Netherlands, ice skating was considered proper for all classes of people to participate in, as shown in many pictures by the Old Masters. However, in other places, participation in ice skating was limited to only members of the upper classes. Emperor Rudolf II of the Holy Roman Empire enjoyed ice skating so much he had a large ice carnival constructed in his court in 1610 in order to popularize the sport. James II of England came to the Netherlands in exile, and he fell for the sport. When he went back to England, this "new" sport was introduced to the British aristocracy. King Louis XVI of France brought ice skating to Paris during his reign. Madame de Pompadour, Napoleon I, Napoleon III, and the House of Stuart were, among others, royal and upper class fans of ice skating. It is said that Queen Victoria got to know her future husband, Prince Albert, better through a series of ice skating trips.

B. B. King How it works
The first main danger in ice skating is falling on the ice, which is dependent on the quality of the ice surface, the design of the ice skate, and the skill and experience of the skater. While serious injury is rare, a number of (short track) skaters have been paralyzed after a fall when they hit the boarding. An additional danger of falling is injury caused by the metal blades of the skater himself or other skaters.
The second and more serious danger is the chance of falling through the ice into the freezing water underneath when skating outdoors. This can lead to serious injury or death due to shock, hypothermia or drowning. It is often difficult or impossible for skaters to climb out of the water back onto the ice due to the ice repeatedly breaking, the skater being weighed down by skates and thick winter clothing, or the skater becoming disoriented under water and being unable to find the entry hole which can lead them to being trapped under the ice.

A number of sports are played while ice skating:
Ice skating Figure skating
Ice hockey
Speed skating
Tour Skating

Bandy is a team sport played on ice, with sticks, a small ball and rules similar to those of field hockey.
Figure skating is a sport in which individuals, mixed couples, or groups perform spins, jumps, and other moves on ice, often to music.
Ice hockey is a team sport played on ice, where the objective of the game is to score goals by shooting a puck into the opponent's goal using a long stick with a blade that is commonly curved to accommodate the shooter's handedness.
Ringette is a team sport played on ice, where the objective of the game is to score goals by shooting a ring into the opponent's goal using a long bladeless stick.
Speed skating is a sport in which the competitors attempt to travel a certain distance as quickly as possible on skates.
Tour skating is a recreational activity where participants travel long distances by ice skating on natural ice. Communal games on ice
In recent years, a new surface is becoming more and more popular - synthetic ice. Some manufacturers commercialize a surface made of polyethylene interconnected sheets that allows skating with the same blades used on ice skating. It is not exactly the same experience but it is good enough where or when one cannot have real ice.

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