Ice skating originated at least three thousand years ago with people using bones to slide on ice as a means of communication and transportation. Skating, as it is known today, probably started in the Netherlands, where metal skates fixed in wooden soles and tied to shoes were first used around 1250. Skating for pleasure was developed mainly by the British. The first club was formed in Edinburgh in 1742, while the first national skating association was founded in Britain in 1879. The International Skating Union was established in 1892 as the world’s governing body for both figure and speed skating. The ISU is now the governing body for figure skating, speed skating, short-track speed skating and synchronized skating.

The South African Ice Skating Association (SAISA) was established in 1937 and encompassed both figure skating and speed skating disciplines. Professor JYT Greig was the first president, a position he held from 1937 until 1950. It was only really in 1970, when ice rinks began popping up all over the country, that SAISA became a true national controlling body for the sport.

South African became a member of the International Skating Union (ISU) family in 1938 and has been the only member on the African continent, until the recent addition of Morocco. South Africa is also an affiliated member of the SOUTH AFRICAN SPORTS CONFEDERATION AND OLYMPIC COMMITTEE (SASCOC), previously NOCSA, which was formed in 2005.

At the ISU Congress in 1994, Speed Skating split from the then SAISA, and the two bodies SAFSA (South African Figure Skating Association) and SASSA (South African Speed Skating Association) were formed and each became full members of the ISU in their own right and the controlling bodies of their sport in South Africa. At the request of the then NOCSA and National Sports Council (NSC) a “loose” association was formed, i.e. South African Ice Skating Federation (SAISF), as we both have the same international controlling body. Although technically this association is still in place, each association is completely autonomous.



The South African Figure Skating Association is currently putting together a project to update and elaborate on our timeline and other important and interesting items of information from our history.

This will be an ongoing project with the aim being to create a vast and colourful account of the history of our sport and its members and athletes.

If anyone has information, photographs, videos, newspaper/magazine cut-outs or anything that involves South African Figure Skating please forward this to We plan to make these part of an ongoing series to promote and celebrate our past and to ensure that the members and events of yesterday and today are remembered tomorrow.







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