Woodcut from Olaus Magnus. Swedish Olaf Mansson (Swedish historian, 1490-1557) wrote, "Among the Sami, both men & women take part in hunting & fishing." Winter scene from Finmark. Three sami with wooden skis, participating in the hunt. The middle hunter is a woman. There is some confusion about where women first began to ski & skate. The Dutch believe that ice skates were a Dutch invention. Scandinavians, however, claim that ice skating was introduced in the Netherlands by their Viking ancestors who visited the European coasts around 800. They think the art of ice skating derived from the Nordic custom to prevent people from sinking in loose snow by binding boards under their boots. This custom should have resulted in both skiing & ice skating.
Hendrick Avercamp (Dutch artist, 1585–1634), Winterlandschap met schaatsers. c 1608 (detail). This crowded winter scene presents a cross-section of Dutch society enjoying a wide range of winters sports, on the frozen waterways.
Hendrick Avercamp (Dutch artist, 1585–1634), Winterlandschap met schaatsers. c 1608 (detail).
The discovery during the 19C of ancient bone skates in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the Danube valley & England suggests that ice skating may be much older than 1,700 years. A study by Federico Formenti of the University of Oxford suggests that the earliest ice skating happened in southern Finland more than 3000 years ago.
Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne (Dutch painter, 1589-1662), Autumn 1625 detail
The first skates were flattened bone that was strapped to the bottom of the foot. The oldest pair of skates known date back to about 3000 B.C., found at the bottom of a lake in Switzerland. The skates were made from the leg bones of large animals, holes were bored at each end of the bone & leather straps were used to tie the skates on. An old Dutch word for skate is "schenkel" which means "leg bone."
Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne (Dutch painter, 1589-1662), Winter 1625 detail
In the 13th Century, the Dutch invented steel blades with edges. The Dutch started using wooden platform skates with flat iron bottom runners. The skates were attached to the skater's shoes with leather straps. Poles were used to propel the skater.
1695 Cornelis Dusart (Dutch artist, 1660-1704) published by Jacob Gole (Dutch, c. 1675 - 1704)
Around 1500, the Dutch added a narrow metal double edged blade, making the poles a thing of the past, as the skater could now push & glide with his feet (called the "Dutch Roll"). In the Netherlands, all classes of people skated. Ice skating was a way people traveled over the canals in the winter months.
La Hollandoise sur les patins after Cornelis Dusart (Dutch artist, 1660-1704)
James II (1633-1701) helped introduce ice skating to the British aristocracy in the late 1600s. In 1742, the Edinburgh Skating Club, the 1st British figure skating club, was formed in Scotland. To gain membership in the club it was necessary for the skater to be able to skate a complete circle on either foot & to jump over one, then two & then 3 hats placed on the ice. The 1st English instructional book concerning ice skating was published in London in 1772. The book, written by a British artillery lieutenant, Robert Jones, described basic figure skating forms such as circles & figure eights.
Fille de petit bourgeois d'Amsterdam... Bernard Picart (French engraver, 1673-1733) Ice Skater
Skating in North America came with Dutch settlers to New York . Upon visiting colonial New York, English clergyman Charles Wooley wrote in 1678, "And upon the Ice its admirable to see Men & Women as it were flying upon their Skates from place to place, with Markets upon their Heads & Backs."
A La Mode Romeyn de Hooghe Published by Nicolaes Visscher II c 1682-1702
By the 1730s, images of women getting help from a gentleman to put on their skates become popular in Europe.
Four Ages of Man; L'Adolescence; print Nicolas Lancret (After) Nicolas de Larmessin III (Print made by) Nicolas de Larmessin III (Published by); 1735; Paris.
From 1400 to the 19C, there were 24 winters in which the Thames was recorded to have frozen over at London: 1408, 1435, 1506, 1514, 1537, 1565, 1595, 1608, 1621, 1635, 1649, 1655, 1663, 1666, 1677, 1684, 1695, 1709, 1716, 1740, 1776, 1788, 1795, & 1814. Images of these periods show hundreds of folks on the river, some ice skating.
Nicolas Lancret (French painter, 1690-1743) Fastening the Skate.
An eye-witness recorded the London frost of the 1680s: "On the 20th of December, 1683, a very violent frost began, which lasted to the 6th of February...the Thames was so frozen that a great street from the Temple to Southwark was built with shops, and all manner of things sold." John Evelyn (1620-1706) noted, "Coaches plied from Westminster to the Temple, and from several other stairs too and fro, as in the streets, sleds, sliding with skates, bull-baiting, horse and coach races, puppet plays and interludes, cooks, tippling and other lewd places, so that it seemed to be a bacchanalian triumph, or carnival on the water."
Winter by John Simon after Nicolas Lancret, published by Thomas Burford 1758
When the Thames was not frozen over, early Londoners skated on the frozen marshes of Moorfields, just north of the old walled city. Archaeologists working on London's recent Crossrail dig have found medieval ice skates. By the middle of the 18C, skating in Hyde Park in London had become a popular winter pastime.
Samuel Hieronymus Grimm (1734-1794) Skating in Hyde Park
The Pleasures of Skaiting - or, a View in Winter from orig by John Collet pub by Carington Bowles, London c 1780
During the 19C, women began to participate in outdoor sports such as Ice Hockey in public spaces.
1805 - Ice Skating The first known ice skating race for Dutch women is in held in Leeuwarden.
1855 - Hockey The first modern game of ice hockey is played in Kingston, Ontario, using rules similar to today's.
1875 - Women begin Ice Skating at Wellesley College, which opens with a college gymnasium for exercising and a lake for ice skating.
1891 - Ice Hockey On Feb. 11, two unnamed women's ice hockey teams play a match in Ottawa, Ontario.
1893 - A women's Ice Hockey team is formed in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
1894 - College girls at McGill University in Montreal begin weekly ice hockey games at an indoor rink - with 3 male students on "guard" at the door.
1899 - Two teams of women ice hockey players play a game on the artifical ice at the Ice Palace in Philadelphia.