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  • There has been some form of skating on ice for 2000 years. Figure skating started in Britain and the first recorded skating club was in Edinburgh sometime in the in mid 1700's.

  • The first artificial rink was opened in London at the Glaciarium in 1876, and it was in London in 1908 that ice skating became a part of Olympic Games.

  • There was then a break until 1924 when it became a regular event at the Winter Games. Ice dancing did not become a regular Olympic event until 1976.


  • Skating takes part on an ice rink which should measure 60 by 30 metres for competitive events such as figure skating and ice dancing.


  • The skate itself has a serated edge at the front end of the blade, known as the toe-rake or toe-pick, which are important in spinning and jumping movements. The blade itself is about 3 millimetres wide, and just longer than the boot into which it is screwed.


  • Figure skating is made up of four events when it comes to the Winter Olympics or the World Championships. These are men’s and women’s singles, pair skating and ice dancing. In each event the competitors are awarded points out of ten from a panel of nine judges from different countries.

  • The solo championship is made up of three sections: figures, free skating and compulsory. In the pairs there are only two sections: the short and long free-skating programmes.

  • The newest event, ice dancing, is controversial among purists because it is regarded more as a branch of show business than a sport. Again there are three sections, the key and most exciting one being a chosen routine that has been practised for months by each pair, expressing their own individuality.


  • The Norwegian Sonja Henie (1912-1969) dominated women’s ice skating in its innovative days. She won her first Norwegian title at the age of nine, made her Olympic début at 11 and won three Olympic gold medals between 1928 and 1935. She won 10 World titles and six European Championships.

    Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean from Nottimgham won four ice dancing world titles and an Olympic gold medal with their interpretation of Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ at the 1984 Olympics. They advanced the art of ice dancing considerably under their coach Betty Calloway.


  • In 1924, Norwegian Sonja Henie came last at the Olympics. In the 1930s she won three Olympic golds and was world champion for ten consecutive years. She then went on to become a professional skater, a movie star (she was in top three movie money-makers in the late 1930s), a multimillionairess, and a great collector of modern art. One of her films was titled One in a Million. She certainly was.

  • In 1970 at Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, the brother and sister ice skating pair, the Militanos, collided during their practice routine. Melissa fell unconscious to the ice. That evening, somewhat recovered, the pair skated in the free programme, with Melissa’s head swathed in bandages.

  • The odds against the Japanese American Kristi Yamiguchi, Olympic figure-skating champion of the 1990s, were exceptional. Her immigrant parents lost their livelihood when their ranch was confiscated by the America authorities after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. They were then interned as enemy aliens. On top of all this, Kristi was born with club feet.

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