During the 19th century Ice Skating developed not only as a past time but also as a sport. Speed skating competitions were held as early as 1863 in Norwegian clubs. Figure skating as we're accustomed to it was introduced by Jackson Haines in the mid 1860's he's said to be the "father of modern figure skating."
The actual skates were blades that were strapped on to a person's boot or shoe.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica Juvenile Non fiction ©1890 copied below will help you get a better picture of how the 19th century viewed skating.
SKATING, as at present practised, may be defined as a mode of progression (usually rapid) upon smooth ice, by the aid of steel blades attached to the soles of the feet It probably originated in the far north of Europe, in Scandinavia and Germany, where it is still in common use. In Russia it has never been a national pastime, as no smooth ice is formed in the rapidly running rivers. Even in St Petersburg it is mainly engaged in by English and Germans. The earliest skates appear to have been certain bones of large animals, but wood was also used from an early period.
In modern skating there are two totally distinct styles, which require different skates differently attached to tbe feet, and different extents and qualities of ice. The first, the "running " or "fen" style, simply consists in going straight ahead at the highest possible speed. Its home is on the fiords of Scandinavia, the fens of Lincolnshire, and the large rivers and lakes of North America. In Holland, Denmark, and North America it is the medium tor carrying a large winter market traffic. It first became common in England in 1662 after the return of the Stuarts. The wooden part or stock of a running skate s from 8 to 12 inches long, according to the length of the foot The blade is made of the best steel, with an average width of y6T inch. The heel is at right angles ;o the surface of the ice. The prow begins to rise off the ice at the fore end of the stock, at a gradually increasing angle, and projects 4 inches. The entire skate s attached to the foot by an iron screw in the heel of -he stock which enters the skater's boot heel and two ong straps which pass through slots in the stock and asten round the ankle and toes of the skater. The length of the heel strap varies from 22 to 32 inches, and that of he toe strap from 15 to 23 inches. Formerly the bottoms of the blades were fluted. A concavity is now effected by grinding; and, when in motion, the blade is rarely flat on the ice. The curve should be slight, and the depth no greater than will ensure a curve being made without touching the ice. The feet are placed at right angles to each other with the toes turned out1 and the body bent slightly forward. Each foot is then raised alternately and set down slightly on the inside edge. It immediately acquires a forward motion, which is increased by pushing with the other foot, that being at right angles and having no sliding motion. The feet must be kept perfectly level when raised and set down, and the skate carried in the Bame manner an inch above the ice when going forward. The forward stroke is made on the outer edge, and the pressure applied to the inner edge of the other foot. The arms are swung across the chest from side to side, and opposite to the direction of the striking leg in order to balance the weight The quickest method of stopping is to place the feet parallel, dig the heels into the ice, and arch the back. A longer but more graceful method is to turn the toes inwards, thus spreading the outside edges athwart the line of going. The feet should never be looked at, as the balance of the body is thereby disturbed. The eye should always be on a line with the horizon.
The fastest skating times recorded, from a standing start, and with no rear wind, have all been made in the United States, at Sew York, as follows:—
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The second style, termed "figure skating," is quite modern and purely English in its origin. This may be practised on any small pond, provided the ice is clear of snow and perfectly smooth. The more numerous opportunities thus afforded make it the more popular style in Great Britain, where the large streams seldom freeze. Figure skating consists in cutting arcs, circles, figures, letters, serpentines, and spirals,—either forwards or backwards, slowly or rapidly, on one or both feet, singly or in combination. The style can ultimatoly be analysed into four kinds of strokes, all made on the edges of the blade— the inside forward, the outside forward, the inside backward, and the outside backward. The variety of evolutions which can be developed from these four movements ii endless. The figure skate is made entirely of metal, is
strapless and fixed to the boots by clamps or like devices. Unlike the running skate, it can be instantly put on or taken off. Many kinds have been invented, but the " Acme," firs* produced in Canada, is generally acknowledged the best. The blade projects the merest trifle beyond the length of the foot and is rounded off in-an upward direction from the ice at both toe and heel. The bottom i.s J inch wide, and the best curve for grinding it is to that of a sovcnfoot radius, equal throughout and not increased fit cither end. In stopping, the end of one skate is placed at right angles to the other.
Summer skating has been occasionally provided in " glaciariums " by means of artificially produced ice.
The London Skating Club, founded in 1830, ii tho lending skating society of Great Britain. Comprising bnt 170 members, including 20 ladies, and practising on exclusively private water in Hegeut's Park, it countenances figure akating only and gives no oncourngoment whatever to the spread or teaching of a national pastime. The National Skating Association was formed in the year 1879, and, on December 8, held tho first raco for the running championship at Thorney, Cambridgeshire. The objecta of the association are as follows:—
To promote, ascertain, and reward speed In skutlnj*,—by the establishment and management of amatear and open akating championships of England; by stimulating and aupplemenling local action In holding of skating matches; by establishing an order of merit for speed skatcn. and awarding badges for tho Bftme; by assisting In providing facilities for skating by the shallow flooding of land In each locality where local branches exist; and by collecting through corresponding members Information of tho existence of loo on which skating Is practicable, and tho supplying of such Information to Its members; and to promote anil encourage figure skating, by tho establishment of standards at which figure skitters may aim, by bestowing bndges of merit on those who attain tlieso standards, and by promoting and aatUtlng In the formation of skating clubs. To provide rules and regulations for tho gamo of hockey on tho Ico, Also to promote the establishment of International skating contests In various countries. under the direction of an International council.
In the United States and Canada large and shallow artificial ponds under cover, termed "rinks," are in winter frozen by filling them with water. Each uight the surface is covered with a layer of water, which gives a fresh sheet of ice by morning. The coven protect the rinks from snow, another great advantage.
As regards a substitute for ico and ice akating on wooden or asphalt floors, the only invention that has ever been found even partially successful is that of James !.. Plimpton of New York in 1869. The implements may bo described as skatea with two parallel wheels at tho toe and heel, so hung that tho whool axloa are moved out of parallel by the transverse rocking of tho skater's foot, the wheela setting squarely on tho surface whether the skater be upright or cantod. Tho fatigue caused by these "roller skates" is quadruple that of ordinary ice skating.