Skating has been a practical mode of transport and recreational activity
for over a thousand years. It is believed that the Vikings, using
polished and ground reindeer bones, were the first to develop skating,
mainly as a method of transport during the harsh winter months to cross
frozen lakes and rivers safely. During this time, it also appears to
have become a recreational pastime, as well. Today, skating has evolved
to include wheeled, land-based skates, as well.
Rollerskating and rollerblading are the two most common forms of
land-based skating. Roller skates feature four wheels, paired two by two,
on the base of the boot. Rollerblades, or
inline skates, have four or
five wheels in a single row. Rollerblades also have a rubber brake
situated at the back of the skate, unlike roller skates, which have
a stopper at the front.
Ice skates use metal bladed skates, often with a series of notched
grooves at the front to facilitate braking. Ice hockey skates are booted
differently, usually in a hard plastic or polymer, because of the
increased punishment they take during use. For figure skating, the skates
are the only pieces of equipment normally needed, although skate guards
are also available to protect your edge while moving about on substances
other than ice.
Secondary equipment is available for those rollerbladers who really go
all out and make the sport extreme. New, high-speed bearings can replace
your stock models to decrease the friction of your wheels. Grind plates
can be added to your boot so you can perform tricks without damaging the
actual boot itself. New polymer wheels are also great, as they
categorically withstand wear better than stock wheels.