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Winter sport > Ice skating
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Ice skating is a popular winter sport – or many, as you can play ice hockey and similar games, figure-skate, race or go for a long-distance journey.


There are special skates for the different kinds of skating. You can learn the basics with any skate, often hockey or figure-skating skates are used by beginners.

Skaters have use of safety equipment, such as helmets. For open-ice skating; ice prods and ice pikes are also essential.

There are skating facilities with equipment for rent, although at most facilities your own equipment is needed.


Skating in Québec.

Most places with long winters: Canada, Nordic countries and Russia. In the Netherlands skating is a national sport, even though most of the winter is too warm there.

There are often both ice hockey rinks and ice for free form skating, more suitable for learning the basics. At some facilities there is music and skating is used as a pastime, with most skaters talking with their company while gently skating around, some perhaps doing basic figure skating.


Figure skating as social event, early 19th century.

Human beings have gone ice skating in cold climates probably since they first happened upon them. In the appropriate climates numerous items have been found from all eras that can be interpreted as having been used for ice skating. In fact, the German meat dish Eisbein literally means "ice bone" and the bone that meat contains was used for ice skating in times past.

In warmer climates, a tradition for ice skating is absent, because artificial cooling was only developed in the 19th century and it is still a major expenditure to keep vast expanses of water frozen at tropical ambient temperatures. That said, there now are artificial ice rinks in big cities and high income countries even with desert or tropical climates.


Open ice skating in the Netherlands.

Ice skating can be combined with hiking or ice fishing, subject to local regulation. Long distance skates, safety equipment and an experienced guide are recommended.

Ice sailing with an ice sail or an ice boat can allow very fast travel.

A kicksled can also get very fast on ice.

Stay safe

See also: Ice safety

Beware of unsafe ice. Use the safety equipment. See also Cold weather.

The ice is hard, the skates are sharp and speeds often high. Also e.g. sticks and pucks can cause damage. Respect any local rules (formal or informal), e.g. about separating different kinds of skaters.

Open-ice skating should be done in groups with an experienced leader.


Stay clear of slower skaters and children.

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