While people across the United States are celebrating Independence Day, the folks at Riedell got to thinking: what was going on in the figure skating world while our Founding Fathers were signing the Declaration of Independence?
Great Britain was one of the most influential nations in the world. In fact, their influence on food, drink, language and sport are still felt by many. By the mid 18th century, figure skating had been around for quite awhile (archaeologists have found evidence of skating as far back as 3,000 B.C.!) and its popularity was growing in England and Europe as a recreational and artistic sport. By 1742, the first skate club opened in Edinburgh, Scotland. Only men were admitted to the club–and they had to prove their capabilities by passing a skate test where they performed a complete circle on either foot (a figure eight), and then jumped over hats–first one, then two and three–placed over each other on the ice. And remember, indoor rinks weren’t yet invented, so the Scottish club could only meet during the cold winter months.
As this was going on in the British Isle, British servicemen introduced a form of ice skating to their North American colony (us!) Skating at that time was much different than what we know now. The type of skating introduced to the United States was characterized by a straight back and more constrained movements.
And in 1772, just four years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Robert Jones published the first-ever instructional figure skating book, A Treatise on Skating.
So while you are watching fireworks and spending time outdoors, be sure to share this skating trivia with your family and skating friends! Happy 4th of July from your friends at Riedell!
Source: The Complete Book of Figure Skating by Carole Shulman