Mention the word ice-skating and, almost immediately, images of lithe skaters gliding effortlessly over slick ice come to mind. Traditionally a winter sport, ice-skating is now enjoyed by enthusiasts the world over, regardless of the climate or the season.
While the origins of ice-skating remain unclear, it is believed to have started a few thousand years ago across northern Europe. Back then, ice-skating was primarily used as a means of transportation, when people needed to travel across frozen lakes during winter.
The earliest evidence of ice-skates was believed to have been found at the bottom of a lake in Switzerland, dating back some 3,000 years B.C. Other archeological evidence has also uncovered early ice-skates fashioned from sharpened animal bones, with holes bored at each end allowing for leather straps to fasten the skates on.
As these primitive skates did not have any grip on the ice, long sticks were used to propel the skater forward. It was not until the 13th or 14th century that the Dutch invented iron skates, using wooden platforms with double-edged blades that enabled the wearer to move forward without the use of poles.
Despite originating in northern Europe, the founder of modern figure skating was Jackson Haines, a famous American skater who created the basis for today’s ice-skating boots.
Haines’ skates featured blades that were directly attached to his boots, allowing the skater to move, jump and spin easily. Haines’ creation, together with his ingenuity in incorporating ballet and dance moves to his skating gave the sport a great boost in popularity.
I want to be an ice-skater
Kallang Ice World is the only indoor ice-skating ring in Singapore and is located at Leisure Park Kallang. Roughly the size of two basketball courts, the newly renovated ring is a hit among local ice-skaters.
Although ice-skating is similar to inline skating, do not worry if you know neither sport well. “Prior sports experience is not necessary,” says Laura Reid, honorary secretary at the All Stars Figure Skating Club.
“But you should have a determined attitude, a good sense of balance and a thick skin. Skating is a sport that can be difficult to learn and can lead toembarassing moments such as pratfalls on the ice when learning how to jump and spin,” she says.
Beginners keen on learning the sport can rent a pair of skates at Kallang Ice World. Laura also recommends wearing loose-fitting, stretch trousers for easy movement as well as a long-sleeved shirt and gloves. In the event of a tumbling, the clothes can help protect you from skin burn.
Be patient though, for skating is not a sport one can learn in a matter of days. Training and regular practice may cost you time and effort, but the feeling of gliding effortlessly across the ice once you master the sport is definitely well worth it.
Where do I sign up?
Keen on picking up ice-skating? Kallang Ice World at Leisure Park Kallang offers a comprehensive range of ice-skating courses, from beginner’s training to classes for the more proficient.