Ice skating is a popular winter sport and transportation method in northern countries. Specialized skates are required, and skating can be done on frozen bodies of water or indoor rinks. Ice skating has been around for thousands of years, with early skates made of bone, wood, and stone. Skating competitions arose in Scandinavia, and indoor refrigerated rinks were introduced in the late 1800s. The Zamboni® sander allows for smooth surfaces to skate on year-round.
Ice skating is a popular winter sport, as well as a form of transportation, in a variety of northern countries. Seasonal rinks are also often built in warmer climates, especially for traditional winter holidays, such as Christmas. Several Olympic sports are played on ice skates, including figure skating, speed skating and hockey. Nations from all over the world field skating teams, thanks to indoor rinks that make it possible all year round.
Specialized skating shoes, usually with a single blade, are required for ice skating, and people who skate on the sport skate on a frozen area, such as an ice rink or a frozen body of water. Skate blades are also sold separately for attaching to conventional shoes, although skaters should take care to ensure they have sufficient ankle support. Experienced skaters can perform complex jumps and other movements, while beginners often find themselves flattened on the ice more frequently than they would like.
Raw ice skates have been found dating back to 3,000 BC, suggesting that humans have used blades to move across ice for thousands of years. These early skates were made of bone and were designed to be tied into existing footwear with leather straps. Other early skates were made from wood and stone which were worked in a variety of ways for the best skating experience. In the 1600s metal skates began to appear, with the idea of a skating shoe emerging in the 1800s.
As many prints commemorating the holiday season suggest, ice skating has been a popular form of entertainment for all economic classes for centuries, with some northern cities holding large winter ice fairs. In some northern cities it was even more efficient to travel on ice skates than on conventional roads. Skating competitions arose in Scandinavia, where almost all citizens knew how to skate and spent a lot of time in winter running on frozen bodies of water, and later even dancing to music.
Until the late 1870s, ice skating was only possible in the northern winters when lakes, ponds and rivers froze over enough to bear the weight. In 1876, John Gamgee built an indoor refrigerated rink in London, which became an overnight success. With the introduction of the Zamboni® sander, a specialized machine used for rink maintenance, skaters can enjoy smooth surfaces to skate on any time of the year, anywhere in the world.