History of Ice Skating: How Figure Skating Has Evolved Since The Beginning

Written By: Riedell | May 31, 2012

When did ice skating begin? Who was the first person to strap on a pair of ice skate blades and glide across a frozen lake? How did figure skating become a sport? We map it all out for you with this awesome timeline. Keep reading!

1,000 B.C.
A pair of ice skates is found at the bottom of a Swiss lake—scientists calculate that they were made 3,000 years ago. Did you know? The earliest skaters took up the sport out of necessity, having to flee from enemies and hunt for food. Skating provided quick transportation during long winters.

50 B.C.
Evidence of skating is found in Roman ruins in London. Excavations uncovered leather soles and blades made of polished animal bones. Because the blades were flat-bottomed it was not possible to get any forward thrust or momentum. The skater had to carry a staff with a pointed end to push off and brake.

1250 A.D.
The Dutch are the first to replace bone skates with blades made of iron. These more “modern” ice skates led to the discovery of the “Dutch Roll,” because skaters could now push and glide with their feet.

Ice skates used in war sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But it actually happened! The Battle of Ijsselmeer takes place in Amsterdam this year and the Dutch surprise the more powerful Spaniards by taking to the ice of the frozen canal for combat.

The first known skating club is established in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The first strictly figure skating club—The Skating Club—is founded in London.

A man named E. V. Bushnell from Philadelphia invents a strapless skate with the blades clipped right to the boot. This revolutionizes ice skating because for the first time skaters can twist, turn, spin and leap without losing their ice skate blades!

Figure skating is made an Olympic sport.

Paul Riedell founds our company—Riedell Shoes Inc.—in the historic town of Red Wing, Minnesota. Learn more about Riedell Skates Here.

Figure skating becomes one of the most watched sports in the world! Stars like Kurt Browning and Jozef Sabovcik proudly wear Riedell Skates to compete.

Minneapolis—just 50 miles from Riedell—hosts the World Figure Skating Championships!

Just two years later, the very first World Synchronized Skating Championships come to Minneapolis, with 21 participating teams from 16 countries. Teams like the Miami RedHawks and Finland’s Rockettes are outfitted in Riedell ice skates.

Riedell launches the beautiful, better Eclipse Blades™ line to complement our awesome figure skate boots.

Figure skating remains one of the most popular sports of the Winter Olympic games and Riedell remains the largest manufacturer of ice skates in North America. We love to hear how Riedell has been part of your life. Share your story and a photo to be featured on our site!

Want to learn more about this great sport? Just explore our blog!