Welcome to the History of Ice Skates.......The oldest pair of skates known date back to about 3000 B.C., found at the bottom of a lake in Switzerland. The skates were made from the leg bones of large animals, holes were bored at each end of the bone and leather straps were used to tie the skates on to the skater's shoes.
CLICK HERE to read a recently published paper by Kuchelmann and Zidarov that describes the authors' experiments in making and using bone ice skates and is highly recommended for anyone curious about the construction and use of bone ice skates.
It wasn't until the 14th Century that the Dutch started using wooden platforms attached with leather straps to the skaters boots, these wooden platforms were attached with flat iron runners, the skater then used primitive ski poles to propel himself along the ice surface much the same way a snow skier does.
Around 1500, the Dutch added a narrow metal double-edged blade, making the poles a thing of the past, as the skater could now push and glide with his feet (called the "Dutch Roll"). Not much progress was made in the world of ice skates until 1848, when E. V. Bushnell of Philadelphia, PA invented the first all steel clamp for skates.
This was followed in 1859 when James Whelpley from Canada developed a skate that was well suited for long distance skating, then in 1865, Jackson Haines, a famous American skater, developed the two plate all metal blade, the blade was attached directly to the boots, which made dance moves, jumps and spins possible. In the 1870s the first toe picks were added to ice skates which made toe pick jumps possible for the first time.
Ice skates were revolutionised in 1914 when a blade maker from Minnesota, USA invented the first closed toe blade which was made from one piece of steel. This made skates lighter and stronger which was particularly helpful in sports such as figure skating and ice hockey.
During the second half of the 1900's skate technology really took off which many companies developing tougher, lighter, stiffer and more comfortable skates, leather was still the main choice of material due to its toughness and ability to shape to the skaters foot (eventually), Bauer has some success with the Bauer Turbo plastic skates during the 1980-90's they used a hard plastic skate shell with a plastic and foam padded inner sock much like a ski boot. This skate now has a cult following particularly with Quad roller skaters.
In 2000's CCM/Reebok introduced the pump skate to inflate around the heal section for a perfect fit, also in the 2000's skates really started to become lightweight with the introduction of Carbon fibre composite, these could be baked in a skate oven and be moulded perfectly to the ankle and heel, this has become the main material used for the modern skate leaving leather for the museum.