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Updated: 2006-02-10 14:21

Now somewhere between art and sport, skating on ice was, for hundreds of years, a rapid form of transportation across frozen lakes, rivers and canals, and the oldest form of skate (a length of bone attached to sandals with thongs) dates back to 20,000 years B.C..

The Dutch were some of the early pioneers and as far back as the 13th century maintained communication by skating from village to village along frozen rivers and canals. Skating spread across the channel to England and soon the first clubs and artificial rinks had begun springing up across the country. Before long the sport had spread right across Europe and had reached North America . Several kings of England, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon I, the great German poet Goethe and Napoleon III all loved to take to the ice.

The Olympic Winter Games present three disciplines of skating: Figure Skating, including singles for Men and Ladies, pairs (a man and a lady) and ice dancing, Speed Skating, and Short Track Speed Skating for Men and Ladies.


This sport includes several Olympic disciplines. Discover the sport through its competition format, equipment, glossary and history.

Figure skating

Short Track Speed Skating

Speed skating

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