: Mike Hewitt/Allsport
Ice skates first appeared in northern Europe around 300 AD. Made from wood, bone or antlers, skates helped primitive hunters capture wild animals on the fjords and icy terrain. The early bone skate was fastened with straps to boots made from animal skins.
1572: The first all-iron skates appear in Scotland. Speed skating soon becomes the first form of skating to become a sport, beating out figure skating and ice hockey.
1850: American E.W. Bushnell creates the first all-steel skate. Light and strong, the blades do not require the frequent sharpening of iron runners. Bushnell's creation revolutionizes skating sports.
1889: Netherlands hosts the first speed skating World Championships, which bring together the Dutch, Russian, American and English champions.
1892: The International Skating Union is founded to govern speed skating and figure skating.
1924: Men's speed skating debuts at the first Olympic Winter Games, held in Chamonix, France. American Charles Jewtraw captures gold in the 500-meter race.
1960: Women's speed skating debuts at the Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif. Lydia Skoblikova of the Soviet Union wins gold in the 1,500 meters and 3,000 meters.
1992: At the Albertville Winter Games, short track speed skating appears for the first time as an Olympic medal sport. American Cathy Turner captures gold in the 500-meter race.
1994: American Bonnie Blair wins her fourth and fifth gold medals, becoming the most successful female U.S. Winter Olympian. Blair finishes first in the 500 meters and 1,000 meters. Norwegian Johann Olav Koss sets three world records while capturing three gold medals in the 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters.
1998: At the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, competitors use the clap skate for the first time in Olympic competition. The skates, which allow athletes to raise their heel off the blade, contribute to five world records and 11 Olympic records in 11 events.