A select number of sports governing bodies were established in the 1800s, and the International Skating Union (ISU) that was founded in 1892, falls in this category of federations who have taken a pastime enjoyed by many and galvanized it into a worldwide sport. ISU oversee the administration of Figure Skating and Speed Skating in two separate branches. The areas of figure skating include four categories. These are single skating, pairs, synchronized skating and ice dancing. Speed skating is divided into long track and short track. The sport is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and forms an integral part of the Winter Olympic program.
One of the key objectives of the federation is to continue to increase the popularity of the sport, firstly among its members, and then also within nations where skating is emerging. In addition, ISU also regulates and governs all competitions. Across the two branches, there are eleven world championships covering specific age levels and categories. There are also four world cup series events held in major cities internationally, further enhancing the exposure for spectators and athletes alike. ISU have created a development program to ensure officials are trained at the highest level. The federation is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
A brief history of ice skating takes us to somewhere either in the 1200s or 1300s where the Dutch were the first to invent skates with edges to aid movement. During the 1600s the sport was introduced to Britain, which quickly became very popular. The first skating club was created in Edinburg, followed by London. The new sport became a favourite pastime for British middle and upper classes. Through a series of ice skating trips, Queen Victoria met her future husband, Prince Albert. The emergence as a sport where actual racing took place, was more the preserve of agricultural labourers. After the creation of ISU, the codified set of rules for figure skating were created. The first Speed Skating World Championships were held in Amsterdam in 1889, followed by the first European Championships two years later.
The federation has been instrumental in building on the popularity of ice skating and turning it into one of the biggest sports in the world.