Ice skating

   Children in many parts of the world ask for ice skates at Christmas time. Ice skates have been popular for many centuries.

   As one would guess, skating on ice first became popular in countries that have long, cold winters. At least 1,000 years ago the people of what are now Norway, Denmark, and Sweden were skating on runners of bone. Ancient books tell us that skating had become a sport in England by the time of the Crusades.

   Ice skating was probably used first as a means of getting from one place to another. A man on skates can go twice as fast as a good runner. Today ice skating is a sport and has a place in the Olympic games.

   Many people go ice skating just for the fun and the exercise. Some others take part in ice skating contests. There are ice skat­ing races and figure skating contests. Special steel skates have been developed for speed skating and figure skating as well as for ice hockey players.

   Figure skating is a sport that takes great skill and many hours of practice. The skater must perform according to an exact pattern. The figure-eight is one of the simplest patterns and is usually the first one a figure skater learns. The grace and beauty of figure skating make it pleasing to watch.