While people have been ice skating for centuries, figure skating in its current form originated in the mid-19th century. A Treatise on Skating (1772) by Englishman Robert Jones, is the first known account of figure skating. Competitions were then held in the "English style" of skating, which was stiff and formal and bears little resemblance to modern figure skating. American skater Jackson Haines, considered the "father of modern figure skating", introduced a new style of skating in the mid-1860s. This style, which incorporated free and expressive techniques, became known as the "international style." Although popular in Europe, Haines' style of skating was not widely adopted in the United States until long after his death.

Figure skating in popular culture

In 1937, Sonja Henie appeared in the film Thin Ice. Figure skating has been the focus of several later Hollywood films, including The Cutting Edge (and its sequels, The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold, The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream and The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice), Ice Princess, Ice Castles, Ice Angel, Go Figure, and Blades of Glory, among others. Olympic champion Brian Boitano was parodied in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut in the song "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" U.S. national champion Johnny Weir was the focus of the reality show Be Good Johnny Weir which aired on the Sundance Channel. Figure skating plays a prominent role in Yuri on Ice, an anime that aired in autumn 2016 which focuses on the career of fictional figure skater Katsuki Yuri.