H. E. Vandervell, The Figure Skate

A Research into the Form of Blade Best Adapted to Curvilinear Skating

What makes a blade good for figure skating? How curved should it be?

Henry Eugene Vandervell, the “father of English figure skating,” asked these questions over a century ago and used his knowledge of mathematics, physics, and skating to answer them. This book presents an account of his experiments and calculations. The results strongly influenced the development of figure skate blades. Most of today’s blades are not far from Vandervell’s recommendations.

Only a handful of copies of The Figure Skate have survived. This new edition makes Vandervell’s work widely available and accessible. It includes the full text of the original work, a new introduction describing Vandervell’s life, and commentary explaining his calculations. Everyone interested in the science behind figure skating will enjoy this book.

106+iv pages, illustrated
ISBN 978-1-948100-06-9 (b&w paperback)
Buy now: USA; International

Henry Eugene Vandervell (1824-1908) is best known for his contributions to figure skating. He invented the counter turn and served as chair of the Ice Figure Committee of the National Skating Association. His best-known book is A System of Figure Skating, co-authored with T. Maxwell Witham.


The father of English skating
Technical aspects of figure skating
This edition

The Figure Skate
Chapter I. The blade
Chapter II. The radius of the blade in an inclined position
Chapter III. Skate blades whose sides are non-parallel
Chapter IV. Measurements
A digression—Thoughts on the possibility of describing the hypocycloid curve by means of turns

Further reading
Illustration credits