Friesland speed skates (1 of 2)

Fig.1: Friesland speed skates, 'old' model, around 1850
Traditional model with high rising neck and short runners. This is the 'old' model which means that the runner blades end approximately 3 cm before the back of the platform. Look at figure 2 to see the difference with the extended blades of the 'new' model.
Braking with 'old' ice skates was done by lifting the toes a little and scratching the ice with the sharp hook at the rear. This required balance and often caused injuries when the skater lost it and tumbled backward.

Manufacturer: unknown; mark: none
Technical data: total length: 42 cm; height over ice: 3.2 cm; platforms: 29 cm long, 5 cm wide; runner blades: 12 mm tall, 3 mm thick; weight: 230 g

Fig.2: Friesland speed skates, 'new' model, around 1880

Contrary to 'old' Friesland ice skates the blades of these skates run until the end of (and sometimes beyond) the platforms making them both faster and safer. They required a different method of braking which was done by sliding sideward and scraping the ice in stead of scratching it. This is standing practice nowadays.

Manufacturer: unknown; mark: none
Technical data: total length: 40.5 cm; height over ice: 3.3 cm; platforms: 28 cm long, 5 cm wide; runner blades: 15 mm tall, 2.5 mm thick; weight: 240 g

Fig.3: Friesland speed skates, around 1950

Dutch children used to learn skating on skates like these for many decennia. There have been made hundreds of thousands of them.
Manufacturer: J. Nooitgedagt & Zn., IJlst; mark:
Technical data: total length: 32 cm; height over ice: 3.5 cm; platforms: 22 cm long, 4.5 cm wide; runner blades: 16 mm tall, 2 mm thick; weight: 200 g

Fig.4 Modern Friesland ice skate, model Easy Glider, 4th quarter 20th century

Nowadays Dutch children learn skating on this type of modern Friesland ice skates. They have a platform and straps of synthetic materials (detail 6 and 7). And are no longer made in the Netherlands.

Supplier: Zandstra, Joure; mark:
Technical data: total length: 36.5 cm; height over ice: 2.9 cm; platforms: 30 cm long, 5 cm wide; runner blades: 10 mm tall, 2 mm thick; weight: 400 g


Friesland (pronounce freeze land) is one of the 13 provinces the Netherlands comprise. It lies in the northeast. Friesland is a low lying country of meadows cut by small canals to keep the grass dry. In autumn, when there is more precipitation, the meadows flush and not much frost is necessary to freeze the thin layer of water.
The original inhabitants have blood ties with the Celts. They are a bit stubborn and cult their tradition. Apart from Dutch they speak their own Fries language (which is not a Dutch dialect!).
Hence, it is not surprisingly they developed their own model of ice skates.

The picture above shows the fronts of Friesland skates until about 1850: a hand forced sharp pin. Because this pin easily caused wounds it was rounded as is shown underneath.

By the end of the 19th century, when the blacksmiths began using parts made by the German metalworking industry, brass acorn finials were introduced .

Around 1920 the acorns were replaced by small hand cut curls as shown here.

At last the laborious curls were skipped and all that lasted was a simple rounded piece of wood as shown underneath.


detail 6

detail 7

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