The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Don Jackson

Figure Skating

1962


Action photo of Don Jackson

Action photo of Don Jackson

Date
1960
Collection
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

Five Unforgettable Minutes in Prague

18,800 spectators in Prague’s Julius Fucik Stadium were about to witness history in the making. Millions of television viewers back home listened to trusted sports anchor Jim McKay of ABC’s Wide World of Sports and colour commentator Dick Button paint the situation as “almost impossible.” Button, a Figure Skating Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion from the United States, understood the gravity of the situation.

Going into the “free skate” program Oshawa’s Don Jackson was 45 points behind Czechoslovakia's Karol Divin in the “compulsory school figures” which counted for 60% of the overall point total. It was deemed to be an insurmountable lead. McKay stated, “Jackson would have to receive marks of either 5.9 or 6 - which is perfection - from almost every judge to have a chance of catching Divin.”

Jackson and Coach Sheldon Galbraith had different thoughts. Galbraith informed Jackson that there was room at the top. Don Jackson was a superb jumper and on this day he planned to give the world a look at something that no man had ever executed in competition – the triple Lutz. He had attempted as many as a 1,000 in practice, but only landed 5 cleanly! However, they always felt good and he rarely fell. In his warm-up he tried it and missed but again he felt confident. He gave the “thumbs-up” to his coach who responded with the same signal.

His gamble would come in the first few seconds of a five-minute program and with the fans, judges, and media fully aware of his intentions, the atmosphere in the arena was one of delirium. In the stands, Don’s mother closed her eyes.

It was perfect. He nailed it! The deafening roar of a disbelieving yet approving crowd drowned out Bizet’s Carmen and Don would have to skate a full length of the ice to hear his program music again. And with nearly five minutes left to skate he still had to deliver everything and anything he was capable of. If he were to fall or slip, he would surely be denied the championship. With his patented ear-to-ear smile, he skated flawlessly landing 22 jumps in total.

Don Jackson brought the house down and gave sports historians a performance for the records, mesmerizing the judges along the way. He received seven perfect scores of 6.0, the highest scores ever recorded!

Don Jackson is the first Canadian man to bring home the World Figure Skating Championship and the first skater to complete a Triple Lutz in competition. It would be 12 more years before another was landed in competition. Those five minutes in Prague, on March 15, 1962, rank as one of the finest performances in figure skating history.

Marsh to Jackson Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

1955
Canadian Junior Men’s Champion
1959
Canadian Senior Men’s Champion
1959
North American Champion
1959
World Championships - Silver medal
1960
Squaw Valley Olympic Games - Silver medal
1960
World Championships - Silver medal
1962
World Championships - Gold medal
1962
Lou Marsh Memorial Award
1965
Men’s World Professional Invitational Champion
1970
World Professional Champion