Research suggests that the earliest ice skating happened in southern Finland more than 4,000 years ago. Originally, skates were merely sharpened, flattened bone strapped to the bottom of the foot. Skaters did not actually skate on the ice, but rather glided on top of it. True skating emerged when a steel blade with sharpened edges was used. Skates now cut into the ice instead of gliding on top of it. Adding edges to ice skates was invented by the Dutch in the 13th or 14th century. These ice skates were made of steel, with sharpened edges on the bottom to aid movement. Skating became popular as a recreation, a means of transport and spectator sport. Skating as a sport developed on the lakes of Scotland and the canals of the Netherlands.
Short track speed skating developed from speed skating events that were held with mass starts. This form of speed skating was mainly practised in the United States and Canada, as opposed to the international form, where athletes skated in pairs. At the 1932 Winter Olympics, speed skating events were conducted in the mass start form. In 1967, ISU adopted short track speed skating, although it did not organize international competitions until 1976. World Championships in short track speed skating have been officially held since 1981, and were added to the Olympics in 1992.