How Skiing and Ice Skating Began

by Kitty Miller

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    Many years ago people in northern Europe strapped bones of animals onto their shoes so they could slide over ice and snow. Such early forms of ice skating and skiing were not considered to be sports then, but each provided necessary transportation for people in the snow countries.

    Before long, wooden blades replaced those made from bones, and eventually iron and metal blades appeared. As better blades and skates were developed, more and more people began to enjoy ice skating.

    Although ice skating races were often held on canals in Holland in the 1500’s, this sport did not become popular in other parts of the world until much later. In 1908 figure skating was introduced in the winter Olympics, and speed skating followed about fifteen years later.

    Today if you visit the Djugarden Ski Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, you can see an early pair of skis made from large bones of animals. Other ancient skis from Norway, Sweden, and Finland are on display there too.

    Skiing was introduced in the winter Olympics in 1924. The two skiing events included were Alpine skiing, which is racing downhill with or without flags, and Nordic skiing, which features cross country and jumping events.

    Both of these winter sports are popular among young people around the world today. Next time you go ice skating or skiing, remember how both of these sports began.

    Illustrated by Howard Post