Skate (Dutch Schaats), a shoe or sandal with a steel runner for travelling over ice. It probably originated in Scandinavia. The earliest skates were made of bone, fastened to the foot with cords. Such skates have been discovered in England, Holland, Sweden, and Iceland, and there are accounts of their use in London in the time of Henry II. The introduction of iron skates was doubtless due to the Dutch, who for an unknown period have used them for travel on their canals and rivers. The best facilities for skating are afforded by the countries of N. W. Europe, where the ice is little covered with snow; but as a pastime it has become widely popular, and is practised with great skill by both men and women. The form of the skate has been much improved. Until within a few years it was a block of wood with a runner or keel of iron or steel about an eighth of an inch thick, channelled at the bottom so that two sharp edges cut into the ice, ending in a sharp angle at the heel, and turning up at the toe. It was secured to the foot by a peg or screw entering the heel of the boot, and by straps passing through the block, crossing the front part of the foot, and connecting with' a broad strap around the heel.
In improved skates the runner is of steel, thicker, and flat instead of channelled at the bottom, the cutting edge forming a little less than a right angle. It is generally curved slightly from front to back, and rounded' up at both heel and toe. There have been many changes in the form of the body of the skate and the fastenings, the straps sometimes giving place to what is almost a complete shoe, while one of the favorite skates is mache wholly of iron or steel, without straps, and fastened to the boot by metal clamps. Motion on skates is very rapid. It is said that the Frieslanders will go for a long time at the rate of 15 m. an hour, and for short distances this rate has been greatly exceeded. - "Parlor" skates, having in place of runners rollers of wood, metal, papier mache, or India rubber, arranged in a line, or like the wheels of a carriage, are used on floors and pavements. With these skates experts can execute the ordinary curves, and even many intricate figures.