According to Roman Wilfand, Director of Hydrometeorological Centre of Russia, this winter is going to be colder than those winters we have got used to for the past decade. Many are desperate about it. But here at Mind Palace (Chertogi razuma) we have decided to live this winter to the fullest. So, sit back, relax and enjoy our stories about ICE SKATES. Second episode (cause starting with the pilot is too mainstream) ICE SKATES Skates in Russian are КОНЬКИ [kon’•kee] (which sounds like ‘tiny horses’).
The word does have some horses in its etymology. It came from the Russian word «КОНЬ» [kon’] (which stands for ‘horse’) as the front of the skates was often embellished with decorative horse heads. So, it all started with the looks and now Russian people use tiny galloping ‘horses’ for ice skating. The word «КОНЁК» [ko•nyok] does have one more meaning in Russian. Конёк [ko•nyok] or «князёк» [knya•zyok] or «конь» [kon’] or «князь» [knyaz’] means ‘roof crown’. In early Russian buildings the crown was often strengthened by a thick hollowed-out log, called «ОХЛУПЕНЬ» [okh•loo•pen’]. The façade end of it was often carved in a shape of a horse or a battle bird. The origin place of first skates remains a mystery. All over the world archeologists would find various devices for moving on ice. Ancient skates were most often made from animal bones. [DODO] But it wasn’t always the case. Ancient Siberians would skate on walrus tusks. [Note the impeccable resemblance] Ancient Chinese — on bamboo poles. One more pair of ancient skates, found by archeologists in Kazakhstan, near Borovoe Lake… …was made of horses tibial bone. So, in this case the horse-connection seems to be quite literal. WTF!? Such ice skates are on display in the Museum of London: it is basically a long carved bone with a hole for the ‘shoelace’. It was found in Muirfield, England, in 1839. Somewhere around here, among all these cats. Cause Muirfield is just like PURRfield. The analysis has shown that these skates were last used about 2,000 years ago! And in 1967 — Soviet Union won once again! The most ancient skates in the world were located just outside Odessa. But it wasn’t the ancient Odessians who skated. [It is a very thick impersonation of Odessian accent of Russian. You’ll just have to accept the fact that it’s funny] These ice skates were used by cimmerians, nomadic tribe, which lived 3,200 years ago on the northern coast of the Black Sea. First ice skates were basically prototypes of skis as they didn’t have sharpened edges. Even though in order to move on these skates people would have to use poles (just like ski poles), it was still much more convenient than walking on ice. It was the Dutch who made ice skates closer to what they are today. As they have always been kinda sorta living near water, they had a lot of opportunities to improvise with ice-surface transportation. So, in addition to the widely-used animal bones, the Dutch would also use smooth wooden shoes or clogs. And then — COMBO! — they started attaching metal blades to these wooden thingies. Such UBERskates are still being sold as souvenirs to tourists in Netherlands. However, if you consider all the ‘souvenir’ options available in Netherlands, they aren’t purchased that often.
*suggestive wink* GUILTY of public promotion of drugs There is one more story about those Dutch guys. A Russian carpenter by the mane of Peter Mikhailov came to the Netherlands in the late 17th century. He tried to be just like all other craftsmen, living his ordinary life: he was learning to sail, buying and sometimes even cooking his own food. He would pass his spare time running on ice in his skates. At those days everyone would have to tie their skates to the boots with special belts. The carpenter soon got bored with this process and — nailed the skates to his boot soles. The Dutch who had visited Russia on trade affairs recognized this carpenter: it was the Russian tzar, Peter the Great! Here is an entry that Jacob Nomen, a Dutch researcher and a character of “Peter the Great”, novel by Alexey Tolstoy, made to his journal after meeting the Tzar. “The Tzar managed to remain incognito only for a week. Some of the Dutch who visited Moscow recognized him. And the word of his trip soon got out and reached Russia.” 150 years later, Jackson Haines, the father of modern figure skating, came to Saint Petersburg. He invented the new skating blade and attached it firmly to the boot. But — when he started promoting his invention, he found out that Peter the Great kind of beat him to it. [cheesy and excessively dramatic pun in Russian] Well, nailing something to something else and considering it an invention sounds very Russian, there is no doubt about that. [end of part one] Winter is coming. This one will be long. And we need to be ready for everything it brings. If we’re not — may the Gods help us. [Part 2 is coming very soon. Brace yourselves]