Ice skates are boots with blades attached to the bottom, used to propel the bearer across a sheet of ice. They are worn as footwear in many sports, including ice hockey, bandy and figure skating. The first ice skates were made from leg bones of horse, ox or deer, and were attached to feet with leather straps. A pole with a sharp metal spike was used for pushing the skater forward.
According to a study done by Federico Formenti, University of Oxford, and Alberto Minetti, University of Milan, Finns were the first to develop ice skates some 5,000 years ago from animal bones. This was important for the Finnish populations to save energy in harsh winter conditions when hunting in Finnish Lakeland. The first skate to use a metal blade was found in Scandinavia and was dated to 200 and was fitted with a thin strip of copper folded and attached to the underside of a leather shoe.
William Fitzstephen, writing in the 12th century, described the use of bone skates in London:
The bottom of a modern ice skate blade, unlike the blade of a knife, has a crescent-shaped hollow, creating two sharp edges on each skate. Ideally, the two edges of a blade are parallel, but poor maintenance practices, such as improper sharpening or lack of consistent sharpening, can often result in oblique edges. These "bad" edges can affect skating ability significantly. The depth of this hollow is known as the Radius of Hollow (RoH). The Radius of Hollow is typically between 1/4" and 1" depending on the type of skates and the user. The optimal depth depends on factors such as the skater's weight, ability, strength, sporting activity, and (for ice hockey) style of play. The skater uses these edges in different combinations in order to maneuver. When ice skates are sharpened the blade is ground with a stone with a curved surface, dressed to either restore the hollow or provide a different radius.
Speed skates and touring skates, however, have a completely flat bottom. There is no hollow, only a squared off bottom with 2 edges. This improves glide time, by not cutting into the ice.
Inexpensive skates for recreational skaters usually resemble either figure skates or hockey skates, but recreational ice skates resembling inline skates with a molded plastic boot are also available. These recreational skates are the form which can be rented from ice rinks for beginners who do not own their own skates. In the non-American English-speaking world they are sometimes called 'death wellies' by skaters who own their own equipment because of their appearance and their reputation for giving people blisters. People who own their own skates may further reduce the risk of blisters by adding a friction management patch to areas inside the skate that could rub or chafe.
Full article ▸