As Coopers Marquees have been so involved with Ice Rinks all around this country for over 20 years we thought it might be interesting for our visitor to know a little about the history of ice skating.
Ice skating has been called the oldest human-powered means of transportation. During the winter it is easy for one to imagine our ancient ancestors gliding across frozen lakes in search of food or trying to speed up their trips in the waning daylight. The history of ice skating began about 5,000 years ago and since then there have been many changes both in form and function.
The Earliest Ice Skates
The oldest ice skates have been found scattered across Scandinavia and Russia, with the most ancient artifacts discovered to be about 5,000 years old. Modern scientists believe that the first manufacturers of skates were probably the Finns - who would have needed them the most, due to the fact that in the winter the southern part of Finland has more frozen lakes in 100 sq. km (40 sq. miles) than any other part of the world.
Although ice skating is a popular winter sport today, the purpose of the invention of ice skates was not so much for recreation, as to make travel easier.
How Skates Evolved
Bone was probably the preferred “blade” for the earliest ice skaters. Many of the oldest skates (which may be more accurately called “gliders”) were generally created with the metatarsal or rib bones of deer, elk, caribou or horses. Holes were made at the front and/or back of the bones through which leather thongs or lengths of animal hide were strung to attach the bones to the feet. Scholars believe that these types of skates would have been accompanied by one or two pointed poles to help propel and stop the skaters.
Many attempts have been made at recreating the ancient bone skates, and it has shown that the surface of the bones made them very well-suited to gliding across the ice.Thus, the early bone style for ice skates remained the norm (although some also used wood) until metal skates were created in 1250 by the Dutch. That is when a flat wooden block and double-edged iron (later steel) combined to create the basis for the modern ice skate. The combination meant that the newer skates were much more stable and enabled freer movement. With a few more changes, the skaters could just push off with one foot and step with the other to glide quickly across the ice with their hands free.
From start to finish Cooper Marquees were very professional and worked on all technical aspects for the visit of the French Prime minister to Ireland. We would gladly recommend them.