Donald Jackson – King of Blades
This is the second article in the series featuring our partners, Canadian figure skaters Kurt Browning and Donald Jackson. This article will go more in depth with the history of the great Donald Jackson.
Donald Jackson, also known as The King of Blades, is a legendary Canadian Figure Skater who dominated the Canadian figure skating scene from the mid 1950’s into the 1960’s.
Born in 1940 in Oshawa, Ontario, Don was encouraged to skate after he participated in his school winter carnival and had to borrow skates to complete his costume. After the costume competition, there was a skating race, and since he was a novice in skating, he couldn’t skate very fast. It was then that he casually mentioned to his mother, that he wanted to learn how to skate. Don was very fortunate to grow up in Oshawa, ON because at the time, the Oshawa Skating Club was the fifth largest club in Canada.
The following summer, Don joined the Oshawa Skating Club. It was at the Oshawa Skating Club that Don eventually met his first coach, Ede Királi, from Budapest. Ede came in second at the world championships in 1939. Ede helped Don with his free skating and taught him about the importance of rhythm in skating. He trained Don to focus on the jumps and his speed instead of just the takeoff. He also taught Don to develop a good foundation in skating.
The following years, Don trained with a few more coaches in Ottawa and then in New York City before returning back to Toronto.
In 1957, Don competed in his first world championships in Colorado Springs and came in 7th overall. He took a lot of learnings from this competition, and he went back to improve based on what he saw. In 1960, Don came in 1st place in the Canadian Senior Men’s Championship (The Minto Cup) in Regina, Saskatchewan and then he won a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California. He also came in 2nd place in the World Championships in Vancouver, BC.
In March of 1962, Don competed at the World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia. It was at this competition that he completed the first triple lutz ever in a world competition and received 7 perfect marks for his free skating. He came in first place and received a Gold Medal. Due to this accomplishment, the BBC-TV in England declared Don the International Athlete of the Year in December of 1962.
In 1962, Donald Jackson was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario and he received Honorary Life Memberships at the Oshawa Skating Club, Minto Skating Club (Ottawa) and the Skating Club of New York.
In 1966, Donald Jackson and his brother Bill, developed the original Jackson figure skates and partnered with Bauer Skate company to market this new product.
Don continued to skate professionally in the 1970’s and was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1977. In 1997, Donald Jackson was appointed a member of The Order of Canada, Canada’s highest honour for lifetime achievement.
Later in his career, Don would work with the Canadian Press and give them information at the world championships, so he continued to watch a lot of skating. He was asked who his favourite free skater was and he mentioned that Kurt Browning’s Casablanca routine stood out. He was in Prague watching the competition when Kurt performed Casablanca and he remembered thinking what an outstanding performance it was. Kurt and Don continued their friendship over the years.
Today, Don Jackson is proud to be working with Canadian figure skating icon, Kurt Browning in a partnership with Canada’s leader in Reverse Mortgages, HomEquity Bank. Don appears in a commercial with Kurt Browning for HomEquity Bank. He is excited about this new chapter in his career and HomEquity Bank is equally excited to reintroduce this incredible Canadian Champion to the Canadian public. Donald Jackson was a leader of his time and he paved way for many of today’s Canadian figure skating stars.