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Canadian History for Kids: Donald Jackson

March 15, 1962 – Donald Jackson First in the world to land a triple lutz jump in ice skating competition

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks the career of Donald Jackson.

The Godfather of figure skating in Canada, Donald Jackson was born on April 2, 1940 in Oshawa, Ontario.

The “Canadian King of the Blades”, had gotten interested in figure skating as a child after being impressed by Don Tobin, whom the family had seen star in the Barbara Ann Scott Skating Show at Maple Leaf Gardens.

As an eight-year-old, he was enrolled in lessons at the Oshawa Skating Club. With group and private lessons, his talent was recognized early.

Oshawa coach and former international champion for Hungary, Ede Király, who started working with a 10-year-old Jackson, was certain his pupil could achieve international success.

After Jackson was almost tempted to go to Britain in 1954 to train under famed coach Arnold Gerschwiler, Canadian skating officials organized sponsors to ease the financial strain on the family. Jackson billeted with an Ottawa family during high school to receive world-class coaching from Otto Gold at the Ottawa Minto Club.

Jackson won his first Canadian Senior Men’s Championship at Toronto’s Varsity Arena in 1959. He followed this up with the North American Championship the same winter and repeated as Canadian champ in February 1960 and January 1961. He took bronze at the Squaw Valley Olympics and finished a close second at the World Championships in 1959 and 1960.

It seemed that 1961 was destined to be the year he took the next step, atop the podium at the Worlds. But he fell il just before departing on the plane.

Ordered to bed by doctors, Jackson had to miss his scheduled flight from New York City with the U.S. national team. That plane crashed near Brussels, killing all aboard. The 1961 World Championships were cancelled.

Jackson had been working on a difficult jump since his arrival in New York City at 17. The Triple lutz. He landed the jump on March 15, 1962 at the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

Some of Don Jackson’s honours include being a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame; he is also a member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1997.

Donald Jackson is a co-founder of the Jackson Skate Company. The company was founded with his brother, Bill Jackson, in 1966. They partnered with the Bauer Skate Company and developed a Jackson line of figure skates. Jackson Skates are worn by figure skaters of all ages and all levels and are one of the most popular brands of figure skates in the world.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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