Ice Skating History

Ice Skating History

Ice skating is a winter sport where athletes equip skates to their feet in order to glide over ice. There are several branches of ice skating, including figure skating, speed skating, and recreational. Figure skating is similar to dance where competitors perform routines and are given scores from judges. Speed skating is a race on an oval track where competitors skate either individually or with a relay. Recreational skating is a leisurely activity where you can skate around for fun at an ice rink.

History of Ice Skating

Ice skating is an extremely important part of a number of sports, such as figure skating and ice hockey. Despite its astronomical impact on the sporting world today, ice skating had humble beginnings with its purpose centered on real-world utility as opposed to competition. Read on to learn more about the history of ice skating.

Country of Origin

Ice skating was first introduced in Finland almost 4,000 years ago. However, The Fins did not create the concept as a sport. Ice skating was originally made to assist with travel. Early Finnish people found that they could move faster if they were skating than if they were walking. Not only that, they would also be able to conserve some of their energy, with more energy efficient strides. The sport at the time looked nothing like it does today. That changed when The Dutch added sharp edges onto ice skates.


There is no one singular person credited with the invention of ice skating. Ice skating is thought to have been invented thousands of years ago in Scandinavia, so no one person or group of people can be pinpointed as the sports founder. There are however certain individuals who have been credited with advancing the sport through the invention of ice skating based sports. For example, Jackson Haines was credited with inventing figure skating and James Creighton created hockey.

Ice Skating in the Olympics

Ice skating, although not specifically an Olympic sport, has helped birth a fair few sports held at the Winter Olympics. Some of the most popular Winter Olympic sports that wouldn’t have been possible without the invention of ice skating include:

Figure Skating: Figure skating was the first winter sport brought to the Olympics. The sport debuted in the Summer Olympics in 1908 and was part of the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924. Figure skating began as the only sport that women could compete in until the 1936 Olympic games.

Speed Skating: Speed skating was introduced into the first Winter Olympics in 1924. At this time, it was a male-only discipline with the first case of women’s speed skating appearing in the 1932 Olympic games. However, in 1932, the event was only considered a demonstration sport and was not officially added until 1960. The discipline of short track speed skating was not introduced until 1992.

Ice Hockey: Similar to figure skating, ice hockey was first brought to the Summer Olympics before the Winter Olympics were created. This sport was first added to the Olympic program in 1920 before moving to the Winter Olympics in 1924. Women’s ice hockey was added much later in the 1998 Olympic games.

Ice Skating Key Facts and Timeline

  • 1000 BCE: The first confirmed set of ice skates are made in modern-day Finland
  • 1742 AD: The first ice skating club is formed in Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 1850 AD: E.W. Bushnell invents all-steel ice skates
  • 1876 AD: The first rink with artificially frozen ice is opened in London, England
  • 1879 AD: The first American artificial ice rink is added to the old Madison Square Garden in New York
  • 1892 AD: The International Skating Union is founded
  • 1890s AD: World championships are first held for speed skating and figure skating
  • 1908 AD: Figure skating is the first ice skating sport added to the Olympics
  • 1920 AD: Ice hockey is featured in the Summer Olympics
  • 1924 AD: Ice hockey is included in the inaugural Winter Olympics
  • 1924 AD: The first speed skating event, a men’s event, is added to the Winter Olympics
  • 1960 AD: Women’s speed skating is added to the Winter Olympics
  • 1976 AD: Ice dancing is added to the Winter Olympics
  • 1992 AD: Short track speed skating is added to the Winter Olympics


When were ice skates first invented?

The earliest form of ice skates were invented around 1000 BCE in Scandinavia. These skates were made out of animal bones as a form of transportation to help move across the icy waterways. More modern skates that used metal blades to cut into the ice were thought to have been created in the early 14th century. While earlier ice skates required pushing sticks to propel the skater, metal blades allowed the person to push off the ice to gain momentum.

Who invented ice skates?

The original ice skates that were made from bones were invented by Scandanvians around 1000 BCE. They invented these skates as a form of transportation across icy waterways. More modern forms of ice skates that had metal blades were invented in the 14th century by the Dutch.

Why was ice skating invented?

Ice skating was originally invented as a means of transportation for Scandanavians. These skates were made out of animal bones and were meant to glide over icy rivers and other waterways. This means of transportation was quicker than walking on or around ice.