Ice Skating

Ice Skating, movement across ice using skates, which are boots with a steel blade fastened to the sole. In early times the ribs or shinbones of animals were bound to the feet, and skaters propelled themselves with a spiked stick. Now popular both as a sport and a recreational pastime, ice skating usually takes place on artificially formed ice in indoor and outdoor arenas known as rinks.

Ice skating competitions are held in speed or figure categories. Speed skating dates from the early 1800s. The first speed-skating competitions at the Olympic Games were held in 1924. In Olympic-style competition the skaters race against the clock rather than each other.
The introduction of curved steel skates in the mid-19th century helped develop the sport of figure skating, in which participants were rated on their ability to follow prescribed outlines-patterns of two- or three-lobed figure eights. Now skaters compete by performing routines set to music. They execute sharp turns and spins and try to achieve a smooth, seemingly effortless performance. The first figure-skating competitions of the Olympics were held in 1908.

Ice dancing has evolved movements based on traditional figures such as the above. It was first included in the Olympic games in 1976.

As might be expected, a high proportion of champion skaters come from countries which enjoy easily accessible ice for several months a year-particularly Sweden, Norway, Finland, the former USSR, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Canada, and the United States. The other major sport involving ice skating is ice hockey.


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