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January 24, 2011

The concept of ice skating was conceived some 4,000 years ago by Scandinavian peoples. Needless to say, the activity was a lot more basic than we see today. They simply strapped the leg bones of big critters to the bottom of their feet and went on their merry way—gliding more than “skating” over frozen bodies of water, like some unknown species of arctic water bug, and using long poles to propel themselves. In fact, the old Dutch word for skate, schenkel, means “leg bone.”

This primitive method of skating did not last forever, of course. Skaters complained that they could not move quickly enough. So, in the late 1500s, the Scots invented the prototype to the steel-bladed skates we use today. (On a related note, they invented the game of curling around the same time.)

If Scandinavians and Scots can skate, so can Virginians. Our climate might be mild and our blood a little thin, but we’re Southerners (dammit!). We’ve got grit, and we recognize the primal appeal of skating outdoors—with chill air in our faces. It’s elemental, like eating turkey off the bone, which is something we still do share with early man!

Several cities, including Reston (the Town Center), Manassas (Harris Pavilion), Arlington (Pentagon Row), Norfolk (MacArthur Ice) and Hampton (Va. Air and Space Center) have outdoor skating rinks, and Richmond has just built a new one downtown. Now, go out and glide!

For a full list of outdoor skating venues, go to VirginiaLiving.com/IceSkating

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January 24, 2011

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