Did you know that ice skates are one of the oldest inventions that have ever been documented? In the bottom of a lake in Switzerland, an ancient pair of ice skates were found and dated to be from around the year 3,000 BC. They were made from the leg bones of a large animal. Leather straps were placed through holes that were drilled through the bones so that skating on the ice could become possible. As for the first modern ice skates, they were first invented in the 14th century by the Dutch.
Most ice skates today are what would be called “figure skates.” Those were invented in 1865 by Jackson Haines, who showed off the fact that he could jump and spin on these new blades. He also added the toe pick to be able to do more on the skates. Born in 1840, Haines died an early death in 1875 due to pneumonia or tuberculosis from traveling around to show his new form of ice skating. Here are some of his other inventions.
1. The Modern Figure Skating Program
Most skating competitions during these days were very rigid and quite formal. It was similar to ballroom dancing and didn’t include any music. Haines wouldn’t have any of that. Using his background in ballet, he created the first modern figure skating program that included leaps, spins, and choreography to music. Haines claimed to be a national figure skating champion in 1864, but he had to move to Europe because Americans weren’t very keen about his new style.
2. Screw-In Blades
There were ice skating blades being used for over a century before Haines came along, often for competitions that involved speed. These blades were tied or lashed onto someone’s boots, so they weren’t permanent. Haines was the first to screw his ice skating blades directly into the boots that he was using and this allowed him to be able to do more moves while on the ice. This became the foundation of his “International style” of ice skating, which became particularly popular in Vienna.
3. The Sit Spin
There are three basic spins that happen in ice skating. One of them, the sit spin, was invented by Haines and involved twirling in place while in a crouched position. There are several variations of this spin that are used in competitions today, including shoot-the-duck, twists, and cannonball positions that all involved the sitting motion. Pairs competitors also perform side-by-side sit spins in tandem or while doing dance moves.
4. Curved Blades
All of the irons that were strapped to boots at the time where straight. Haines tried these blades himself and found them to be too rigid for what he envisioned being able to do on the ice. That’s where he developed the ice skate that was a bit smaller and more curved than other typical blades that were being used at the time. They were lighter as well, which allowed him to be able to be able to maintain the speed of the larger blade, but have more finesse while out on the ice.