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Traveling on ice with skates.
Ice skating is traveling on ice with skates, narrow (and sometimes parabolic) blade-like devices moulded into special boots (or, more primitively, without boots, tied to regular footwear). It is mainly done for recreation and as a sport.
It is possible on canals and lakes, etc. after it has been freezing for some time, and at indoor and outdoor skating tracks and areas with artificial cooling. The skating rink regarded as the world's longest (about 8 kilometres long) is the Rideau Canal located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
In some countries with a temperate climate, e.g. the Netherlands, frozen canals and lakes are fairly rare, but skating is popular where these are encountered.
Ice skating has been believed to be started in Sweden over twelve-hundred years ago by the Vikings. The runners, made of bones, were ground down until they formed a flat gliding surface, and thongs tied them to the feet. The blades were polished oxen or reindeer bones. These weren't very efficient, so they used a long stick to push themselves forward and stay upright. Skates were originally used for transportation over the frozen rivers and later used for fun. Skating has been found to date back to 50 B.C. It was most common to skate where there are long, cold winters especially in places like Scandinavia.
In the 17th century, canal racing on wooden skates with iron blades was popular in the Netherlands. Also in that century, James, the younger son of the British monarch Charles I, came to the Netherlands in exile, he fell for the sport. When he went back to England, this "new" sport was introduced to the British aristocracy.
In the 18th century, ice skating became a world known sport and the Dutch created skates with much longer blades.
How it works
Ice skating works because the metal blade at the bottom of the ice skate shoe can glide with very little friction over the surface of the ice. However, slightly leaning the blade over and digging one of its edges into the ice ("rockover and bite") gives skaters the ability to increase friction and control their movement at will. In addition, by choosing to move along curved paths whilst leaning their bodies radially and flexing their knees, skaters can use gravity to control and increase their momentum. They can also create momentum by pushing the blade against the curved track which it cuts into the ice. Skillfully combining these two actions of leaning and pushing, a technique known as "drawing", results in what looks like effortless and graceful curvilinear flow across the ice.
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