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November 17, 2011

Ice Skating

About 5000 years ago, in the harsh winter of Finland, a hunter repeatedly failed to catch his quarry because he could not run fast enough across the frozen surface. So he invented primitive skates to propel himself across the ice. He made them from animal bones and tied them to his feet with strips of leather. After a few attempts he must have become the fastest hunter in the community!
Primitive Ice Skates
As time passed, there were improvements. The bone was fitted with a strip of folded copper and then attached to the underside of a leather shoe. Ice skates enabled the Scandinavians to move quickly and to save energy - both vital to survival in icy terrain. I like this description written by a cleric of Thomas Becket, on the use of bone skates in the 12th century in London:

"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, and 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."

Skating Boots
Modern ice skates are specially manufactured boots with sharp metal blades attached to the bottom. They are worn for ice hockey and figure skating. The latter is an Olympic sport in which individuals, pairs, or groups perform intricate jumps, spins as they skate on ice.

Ice Dancing

Ice dancing is a combination of skating, music, dance and showbiz. Originating  in the UK in the 'thirties, it soon became popular across Europe. In the 'seventies it was included in the Winter Olympics. Competitions as well as performances of ice dancing are thrilling to watch, like the one below:

If you liked it, watch the same fabulous pair, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, dancing to Mahler's musicThen see Yu Na Kim  the Olympic champion from Korea in a breathtaking performance set to the Moonlight Sonata. Finally, the clip below - a fusion of Indian music and moves combined with typical Western ice dancing.

Davis and White are a champion team since 1997 and the first American ice dancers to win the World title.

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