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Ice skate facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
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Men's hockey skates

Ice skates are boots with blades attached to the bottom, used to propel the bearer across a sheet of ice while ice skating.

The first ice skates were made from leg bones of horse, ox or deer, and were attached to feet with leather straps. These skates required a pole with a sharp metal spike that was used for pushing the skater forward, unlike modern bladed skates.

Modern skates come in many different varieties, which are chosen depending on the nature of the requirements needed for the skating activity. They are worn recreationally in ice rinks or on frozen bodies of water across the globe and are used as footwear in many sports, including figure skating, ice hockey, bandy, speed skating and tour skating.

There are four main types of ice skates:

Figure skates
Amateur ice hockey skates
Modern amateur ice hockey skates
  • Figure skates are used in the sport of figure skating. They have toe picks on the front of the blade, which are usually made out of aluminum or steel. The toe pick has a variety of uses, but is most commonly used for certain jumps in figure skating, such as the axel and toe loop jumps. Figure skating boots are typically made of several layers of leather and the leather is very stiff to provide ankle support.
  • Hockey skates are used for playing the games of ice hockey and ringette. The boot is generally made of molded plastic, leather (often synthetic), and ballistic nylon. Skates used in competitive hockey rarely use molded plastic for the upper boot, as this results in limited mobility. All hockey skates (excepting goaltender's skates) are designed such that they will not cause injury to an opponent, and are fitted with safety blades.
  • Racing skates, also known as speed skates, have long blades and are used for speed skating. A clap skate (or clapper skate) is a type of skate where the shoe is connected to the blade using a hinge.
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Touring skate on ice
  • Touring skates (or Nordic skates) are long blades that can be attached, via bindings, to hiking or cross-country ski boots and are used for tour skating or long distance skating on natural ice. The blades are approximately 50 cm long with a radius of curvature (or rocker) of about 25 m. The blades are about 1 mm wide, with a flat cross-section. The length of the blades makes touring skates more stable on uneven natural ice than skates with shorter blades. Since tour skating often involves walking between lakes or around unskateable sections, the fact that the blades can be easily removed from one's boots is an asset. Although mainly used for non-competitive touring, touring skates are sometimes used in marathon speed skating races on natural ice.
Blue skates
Modern recreational skates

Inexpensive skates for recreational skaters usually resemble either figure skates or hockey skates, but recreational ice skates resembling inline skates with a molded plastic boot are also available. These recreational skates are the form which can be hired from ice rinks for beginners who do not own their own skates. They are often called 'death wellies' by skaters who own their own equipment because of their appearance and their reputation for giving people blisters.

The steel ice skate was invented in 1867 by John Forbes, foreman at the Starr Manufacturing Company, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It was a clip-on design. Their Acme brand became famous worldwide.

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