Dec 15, 2010
Don Jackson returns to his Oshawa roots.
OSHAWA -- Don Jackson, who won a world figure skating championship in 1962, has returned to Oshawa.
The Oshawa Figure Skating Club is hosting a welcome home event for him December 19. December 19, 2010
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
OSHAWA -- The word 'legend' is one that's often overused in sports.
Not so for Don Jackson, however, a true legend in figure skating who will be celebrated by his hometown of Oshawa this Sunday.
There's good cause for the celebration, too, as Jackson has returned to his roots, to live in Whitby and work with the same Oshawa Skating Club that started him on the road to fame so many years ago.
After spending much of the past 25 years in Ottawa as the executive director of the Minto Figure Skating Club, Jackson has returned to Durham with his wife Barbara, primarily to get closer to their family, which includes seven children and five grandkids.
Smartly, the Oshawa club has jumped on the opportunity to welcome Jackson back in grand style, with a gala and reception beginning Sunday at the Campus Ice Centre, followed by a holiday skate.
Jackson, while battling a stubborn illness, is looking forward to the big day.
"Absolutely, I wouldn't miss it," he said. "It's coming home. That's the big thing. It's nice to come home."
Jackson, who turned 70 in April, has built a figure skating resumé a mile long, one that includes inductions into several halls of fame, including, of course, in Oshawa, an Olympic bronze medal, a world title, the Lou Marsh Trophy and the Order of Canada.
The peak of Jackson's amateur career came in the early 1960s, beginning with the bronze medal win at the Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, California.
Two years after that, he became a pioneer in the sport by landing the first triple Lutz in international competition, which led to seven perfect marks and helped earn him the distinction of being the first Canadian male to win gold at the world figure skating championships.
It was that year he was also awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's outstanding athlete.
Turning professional shortly after that, Jackson has stayed heavily involved in the sport ever since, travelling with Ice Follies for almost nine years, performing in carnivals, coaching and doing seminars before finally settling in Ottawa with his wife and joining the Minto club.
He has inspired more than one generation of great skaters in this country, including Brian Orser, whom he remembers spotting as a 12 year old and pegging for big things.
But, more importantly, he has passed on his love for the sport, something he hopes to do again in whichever capacity the Oshawa club deems best for him.
"I've enjoyed the teaching, and it's not to teach them to be champions, it's to teach them to enjoy what they're doing," he explained. "I'd rather have someone that skates, loves what they're doing, has a good foundation they can build on it, and if they drop out because of school, or marriage, or whatever, they'll come back and want to skate again. I'd rather do that than teach someone that wins a championship and never skates again after that.
"That's been my motto all these years," he continued. "I've just wanted people to enjoy what I've enjoyed."
Mandy Klock, president of the Oshawa Skating Club, is understandably excited about the opportunity to draw from Jackson's vast knowledge.
"It's very exciting for sure," she said. "He's going to help with coaching and everything, so to have that kind of experience is just phenomenal. It'll be so good for our club and he's such a nice gentleman, so we're just really excited about having him back."
The gala part of the event, which is open to the public, will run from 12:45 to 1:15 p.m. The skate that follows is for club skaters and their families only.