At the age of 10, Donald “Don” Jackson finished a figure skating tournament, the Club Novice Championship in Oshawa, in the top place for the first time. It would not be his last. At 14, he was the Canadian junior men’s champion and, later in 1955, he received the Lake Placid Sportsmanship Award at a tournament in New York. For the next three years he was runner-up in the Canadian senior championships to Charles Snelling, and also placed 4th in the North American Championships and 7th in the World Championships in 1957, and 4th in the latter in 1958. In 1959 he was finally named the Canadian and North American men’s champion in singles for a run that would last through 1962 and 1961 respectively. He also took the runner-up position at the World Championships. Thus, by the time that he attended the Winter Olympics in 1960, he was at his peak and he proved it by taking home the bronze medal in the singles event and the runner-up spot at the World Championships the next month. It was 1962, however, that solidified his name in figure skating history when he performed the first triple lutz jump ever seen in international competition (a feat that would not be repeated by a male for another 12 years) and was declared world champion. He had been in 2nd place, behind Karol Divín of Czechoslovakia, after the compulsories, and therefore knew that he would have to execute a performance worthy of a 5.9 or a perfect 6 from nearly every judge. To the music of Carmen, he opened his routine with the triple lutz to astonishment and thunderous applause from the audience, then continued flawlessly throughout his five minute performance. He received seven perfect scores from the judges during his winning routine, as well as a standing ovation from the audience, a record that still stands. His lowest score was 5.8, and he only received two of them. After the competition, the British Broadcasting Corporation named him their International Athlete of the Year. Nationally he was rewarded for his efforts with the Lou Marsh Trophy, given annually to Canada’s top athlete, as well as an induction into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame. He then turned professional and skated with the Ice Follies from 1962 through 1968.
By 1965 Jackson was a well-known figure in the national and international sporting world, and was the subject of a documentary from the National Film Board of Canada entitled “King of Blades” (a biography of the same name was published in 1977). The following year he and his brother worked with Bauer to develop a line of figure skates that were marketed through Don Jackson Figure Skating Products. He was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Ontario Sport Legends Hall of Fame in 2002, and was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1997. As of 2009, he was the director of skating, as well as a coach, at Ottawa’s Minto Skating Club.
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