The history of ice skating began in prehistoric times on primitive animal bone skates. Figure Skating then became a popular past time in winter. Ice skating is first clearly mentioned in a book written in the 12th century in England. In the 13th or 14th century, the Dutch invented edges and made blades of steel. The Edinburgh Skating Club, founded in 1742, was the first ice skating association and the first instructional book was published in London in 1772. This publication marked the split of ice skating into the two disciplines of Figure Skating and Speed Skating.
Figure Skating was one of the first sports that was practiced by women and men. However, originally only men competed in Figure Skating, starting in the 19th century. The first Championships of America was held in Troy (New York) in 1864. Jackson Haines won this event. He was a pioneer of Figure Skating and the first to include ballet and dance moves into skating. The traditional ice skating focused on tracing patterns on the ice.
The first European Figure Skating Championships were held in Hamburg, Germany, in 1891 and the International Skating Union was founded in 1892. The inaugural World Figure Skating Championships were held in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1896. The first woman to compete in a Figure Skating event was Madge Syers (GBR), who participated in the World Figure Skating Championships in 1902, competing against men – and finishing second to Ulrich Salchow (SWE).
Figure Skating was also the first winter sport that became an Olympic discipline when it was introduced in the 1908 Olympic (Summer) Games in London – with men’s and ladies singles as well as Pair Skating and, for the only time, special figures. The ISU World Figure Skating Championships included Ladies singles from 1906 and Pair Skating from 1908. Ice Dance was added as the fourth discipline in 1952 to the ISU World Figure Skating Championships and in 1972 to the program of the Olympic Winter Games.
Figure Skating events take place all over the world and the leading countries are currently Canada, Japan, Russia and USA. China is especially strong in Pair Skating.