Vieth, On Skating

I have completed my translation of the first German book on skating, Gerhard Ulrich Anton Vieth’s Ueber das Schrittschuhlaufen. It was originally a lecture given in Dessau in 1788, then published as a journal article in 1789, and finally published in book form with some additions by an anonymous editor in 1790.

Vieth’s book is interesting because he’s the first to connect skating to dance. He quotes Noverre’s Lettres sur la danse and suggests skating to music.

Vieth also uses physics to explain how to skate a spiral line. He brings up Newton’s laws and some of the things Newton proves in the Principia. That’s not really surprising since in his life off the ice, Vieth is a math teacher. He’s also one of the pioneers of physical education, along with GutsMuths and Jahn.

The book quite short and doesn’t talk about practical fundamentals, like what kind of skates to use. Still, it’s very interesting to compare with Robert Jones’s book from 18 years earlier.