Ice-skating seems to have fallen from favour in recent years, replaced with surfing for celebrity news on i-phones! However, not so long ago, most children went to the ice-rink for a fun day out, even if it meant falling over now and then! You would pay your fee for a ticket, then hire boots and then shuffle along pretending that one day you would be like Torvill & Dean.
Never skate (or walk) on frozen ponds, as there is always a risk of ice breaking suddenly, and you could fall in. There are many public rinks now where you can learn to skate or take the family to watch an ice-hockey match. Each year, London’s Somerset House transforms a neoclassical courtyard into a beautiful winter rink with Christmas champagne and cocktails (obviously drink after skating, or you’ll fall over even more than usual!)
Ice-skating was created 3000 years ago, as a way to get around fast, when there were no cars! London opened its first ice rink in 1876. 3 years later, a similar rink opened in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Ice skating is a good form of exercise (rinks are made by pouring hot water into them, as it has less dissolved oxygen, for better ice!)
Ice-skating is quite a complicated sport, as you’ll need to get blades, gloves and other paraphenalia. There are many companies now that make vegan ice-skates (Edea skates still uses leather in some models, but state their Tempo, Wave, Ice Fly and Piano versions are all animal-free).
tips for not falling over!
If you are new to ice-skating, the top tips from experts are as follows.
- Follow all the safety rules, they are there for a reason.
- The main two things people do wrong is leaning back and looking down. In fact, you should bend your knees slightly and look in front. If you feel wobbly, put your arms out (like a tightrope walker).
- Wear comfy layers as you’ll get hot in a cold climate.
- Don’t wear a scarf that could tangle you or others, if you fell.
- Don’t wear boots that are loose at the ankle, or you could injure yourself. Fasten them up properly so your feet are snug but not too tight.
On a similar note, not-falling-over experts say that if walking outside on ice, you should ‘walk like a penguin’ to keep safe: stick your toes out (like a ballet dancer), extend your arms (wings!) to the side, and waddle as you walk (lean weight forward slightly and don’t carry heavy bags to put you off balance). Keep your hands out of pockets, and if you do fall to the back or side, tuck your chin in to your chest, to stop your head hitting the ground.
One place where it’s relatively safe to skate on frozen ponds is in Siberia, the coldest place on earth. It’s so freezing here that you can’t wear glasses (they would freeze to your face) and engines have to be kept running all the time. 80-year old Lyubov Morekhodova has skated for 70 years on Lake Baikal, which freezes each year (with no chance of warming up), still wearing the original blades her father made. She would skate to school, to halve the time the journey took.