Who Was Jackson Haines and why did he become the Toast of Europe?

Born in 1840, Jackson Haines is considered to be the father of American figure skating. Before venturing into skating, Haines had received training as a dancer and was looking for a way to merge his love for dancing and skating.

The idea of Haines moving gracefully and expressively while dancing to music, jumping and spinning around did not warm the hearts of people in the United States where the accepted norm was etching complex and rigid patterns into the ice.

Haines left for Europe in 1864 in search of acceptability, and this is where his ballet style dancing picked up in big cities like London, Stockholm, Vienna, and Paris. He became a sensation and went on to become the first person to attach a blade to his boot firmly and also created a toe pick for his jumping movements.

Haines is also recognized for having taught the Viennese to waltz on ice as they danced to their favorite music. His popularity in Europe lasted for 11 years, and he quickly became an international celebrity moving from one continent to the next for skating exhibitions which were done under live music in outdoor skating rinks.

The weather and traveling conditions of the 1800's were unimaginably terrible and were the ultimate cause of the demise of the ‘Father of American Figure Skating" and the toast of Europe. Haines died of pneumonia in 1875 in Finland after he traveled from St. Petersburg to Stockholm on a sled.

Jackson Haines left behind a legacy which is now known as the international style of figure skating. While Haines died a celebrity in Europe, figure skating did not pick up in the United States until many years later. He was later inducted into the World of Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1976 and left a legacy which many people enjoy today. 

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