Jackson Haines skated at that time the bracket and rocker, but without the circle eight and without any apparent system. He was surprised to find such good skaters in Vienna, and was indefatigable in teaching to them the mysteries of his art.
Haines arranged many dance steps suitable for the ice; one of these is the Jackson Haines valse, which is still popular with skaters.
We also owe to him many of the combined movements and figures, which must be done with swing and power. He had a peculiar knowledge of harmonious movement and could execute the most intricate combinations with the greatest ease and grace.
Franz Calistus said when one saw Haines glide out on to the glassy surface, now graceful swinging, now carried away like a whirlwind, now leaping from the ice all with inimitable charm and grace, which was not lacking even in his most difficult figures, and with a wonderful sureness, which never gave a impression of danger but only one of beauty, one realized that it was indeed skating in the grand style.
Jackson Haines was also most expert on roller skates and gave many Jackson performances. He was wont to give his exhibitions in the most varied Haines costumes. We see him at different times disguised as a Russian, a prince of fairyland, a lady, and even as a bear.
Haines did not confine himself solely to skating in rinks, but skated at fetes and fairs, and once appeared at the Balagani, a popular Russian winter festival in St Petersburg. Everywhere he went his great skill was admired and appreciated, and he is universally recognized as the creator of the modern system of Figure Skating.
The popular skate of those days was the Halifax skate, or the so-called American skate. But neither model was quite satisfactory. It was Haines, therefore, who first brought to Europeans a perfect skate, and one made especially for Figure Skating. The skates of the present day are directly modeled after his first skate. The blade was forged on to the toe and heel plates, which, in turn, were screwed on to the sole and heel of the skating boot.
Jackson Haines was born in Chicago and was the son of a joiner or cabinetmaker. In his tenth year he went to Europe in order to become a dancer. His father brought him back to America, but again, at the age of seventeen, he left his home and studied Assiduously for the stage. To become proficient as a dancer he particularly studied the movements of the body and the correct positions of the arms and legs by observing himself in a mirror. He is also said to have practiced the art of club swinging. We hear of him again in Philadelphia giving instruction as a ballet master.
Nothing positive is known as to the place and year of Haines death.
The story goes that he broke a leg while jumping over a chair on skates at a festival held on the Neva by the Tsar Alexander II, and died in St Petersburg as the result of this accident.
It is also said that he succumbed to consumption at a little town in Sweden, while others say that he died in America about 1870. The most probable supposition is that he died of pneumonia in the little village of Gamla-Karleby in Finland and was buried there. In 1880 a famous sportsman bought a pair of skates and a leather pocket bearing the inscription Jackson Haines in Gamla-Karleby at a auction by a famous sportsman.