Speedskating - Country histories

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Main source: Bulgarian federation site.

The heroes of Musala

Conditions for outdoor ice skating are not easy to find in Bulgaria. But occasional cold winters occur, and archaeologists find bone and wooden skates here as in other countries. In the 19th century, skating was fashionable, and king Alexandar opened the first rink on a frozen bog outside Sofia in the 1880s. There is evidence for the existence of a club in 1929, and more clubs were added in the following years. The ice on a lake in the Borisova Gradina park was a popular skating venue during the early years. The Bulgarian skating federation was formed on September 16th, 1949, and in the early 50s, a group of enthusiasts climbed to the top of the Musala mountain, altitude 2400m, to make a 250m rink and arrange the first speedskating contests in Bulgaria over 500, 1000 and 1500 meters for men and 500 and 1000 meters for women. Unfortunately the results are not known.

The first indoor artificial rink was built in 1960, and Bulgaria joined the ISU in 1967. The first shorttrack competitions were arranged in 1986 and here the Bulgarians have been successful, primarily through Evgenia Radanova, five times European Champion. Inliners exist, too, but so far neither they nor any of the shorttrackers have crossed over. Times will show if the heroes of Musala will ever have any successors.