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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Ice Skating

The first mention of ice skating was contained in a biography of Thomas à Beckett written by his former clerk William FitzStephen around 1180. It was included in his "description of the most noble city of London."

FitzStephen's account reads: "When the great fenne or moore (which watereth the walles of the citie on the North side) is frozen, many young men play upon the yce, some striding as wide as they may, doe slide swiftly...some tye bones to their feete, & under their heeles, and shoving themselves by a little picked staffe, doe slide as swiftly as birde flyeth in the aire, or an arrow out of a crossbow."

King Charles II of England learned skating while in exile in Holland and, on his return home, he brought with him the iron-bladed skate. John Evelyn in his Memoirs tells in an entry for December 1, 1662  about his admiration on seeing "on the new canal in St James Park. . . the strange and wonderful dexterity of the sliders... after the manner of Hollanders" - "with what swiftness they passe, how suddenly they stop in full carriere upon the ice."

Scotland can lay claim for establishing, in Edinburgh in 1742, the first skating club. To qualify as a member, applicants had to prove their ability to skate a complete circle and on either foot to jump over three hats.

By 1813 skating had become so well established in Britain that followers of the sport began to publish their own journal.

Members of the Skating Club of Edinburgh, brought skating to Canada, and it quickly spread to the United States. It was in Philadelphia also that America's earliest skating club was formed, in 1849.

The UK’s worst ice skating disaster occurred on January 15, 1867 as 40 people drowned in Regent’s Park, London, when the ice broke.

The first Championship, known as the Championship of the Internationale Eislauf-Vereingung, was held in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1896. The event had four competitors (all male) and was won by Gilbert Fuchs.

The skating championships were originally presumed all-male since competitive skating was generally viewed as a male sport, however there were no specific rules regarding the gender of competitors. In 1902 Madge Syers entered the championships, and won the silver medal.

The first ladies competition was held in 1906 and took part in Davos, Switzerlamd. It was won by Syers.

The first pairs competition was held in St. Petersburg in 1908, though in some countries pairs competition was illegal and considered indecent.

16 years before the first Winter Olympics in 1924, figure skating debuted as part of the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. The number of competitors was very low, with two events having only three entrants, guaranteeing a medal for participation.

After having won a European international championship, Irving Brokaw of New York, passionately promoted skating in his own country and was responsible for the first American-based international figure skating tournament, held at New Haven, Connecticut, in 1914.

The first triple jump in figure skating competition was performed by Dick Button in 1952.

The 1961 World Figure Skating Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia were canceled after the entire United States team of skaters, officials, leaders and chaperones all died on February 15 in a plane crash just outside of Belgium while traveling to the competition.

The Eleven Cities ice skating race in the Netherlands is 199 kilometers (124 miles) long and can only take place when the canals freeze over. The last race took place in 1997.

Source Europress Encyclopedia

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