Sports Information: Ice Skating
BACKGROUND ON ICE SKATING / FIGURE SKATING
Skating was established when a steel blade was used with sharpened edges to make it easier to move on ice. This was a Dutch invention of the 13th or 14th century and the construction of modern ice skates has not radically changed since then. Skaters compete by demonstrating superior dance technique or, in the case of speed skating, simply skating faster.
The first participants were members of the aristocracy. The first British skating club was formed in Edinburgh in 1740 and ninety years later the first London club made its appearance.
Artificial ice became a feature from 1844 and the first skating competitions were held in the East Anglian fens. These were based on a series of races with heats, finals and cash prizes. In 1879 The National Skating Association was established for professional skaters in Huntingdonshire and Cambridge. Figure skating was pioneered by the American skater Jackson Haines whose artistic style was in sharp contrast to the typical reserve and rigidity of British skaters. The International Skating Union was founded in the Netherlands in 1892 and figure skating rules formalised at that point. The first international championships were held in St Petersburg in 1896. Figure skating made its Olympic debut in the London games in 1908 and became part of the Winter Olympics in 1924.
THE SPORT TODAY
There are many skill levels for figure skaters from beginners to local, national and international competitions. Major international events are regulated by the International Skating Union (ISU). These include the senior and junior Grand Prix Series, the Four Continents Championships, the European Championships, the World Championships and the Winter Olympics.
The four Olympic disciplines are men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating and ice dancing. The high public profile of the sport, originally fostered by Torvill & Dean after their success at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics, has been sustained by continued television exposure via programmes such as Stars on Ice and Dancing on Ice.
TOP TIPS FOR BETTING ON FIGURE SKATING
Research competitors' form via skating magazines, websites, online posts and TV coverage
Check prices from various bookmakers to secure the best value
Most bookmakers offer odds on Olympic skating competitions and 'Dancing on Ice' attracted particularly high turnover. However, following the withdrawal of Torvill and Dean, ITV announced that the ninth series of the show (which finished in March 2014) would be the last.