February 25, 2006
Jackson wins bronze: 1960 - Squaw Valley, California
GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media

Sonja Henie of Norway was a great figure skater but one could also say that she was a pretty good prognosticator too.

Ms. Henie was, actually, a brilliant figure skater, who won gold medals in three consecutive Olympic Games: 1928, 1932 and 1936. It was Canada's Barbie Doll - Barbara Ann Scott - who took over Henie's reign and became the Olympic figure skating queen in 1948 after World War II interrupted the staging of the Games.

If Sonja Henie had any faults, it was her unwillingness to talk to the media. Knowing that but also knowing I had to find a way to speak with her, I had to resort to some psychological tricks.

After watching Oshawa's Don Jackson win a bronze medal in the men's singles of figure skating in the 1960 Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, it behooved me to find out her opinion of the Canadian skater who finished behind American David Jenkins and Slovak Karol Divin.

The opportunity came when Ms. Henie was chatting with Jackson in the athletes' restaurant. I walked up to the Canadian skater and asked him in a not so quiet voice if he was talking to his mother.

Upon hearing that, Ms. Henie exploded and showered me with several unkind epithets. However, after she finished her tirade, I asked her what she thought of Donnie Jackson.

"I shouldn't be talking to you," was her opening gambit. "But now that you asked, I think he is very talented and will be the next world champion."

There were no world championships in 1961 because of the air crash which killed the entire US figure skating team. However, the following year in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Jackson defeated Divin on the latter's home ice, just as Sonja Henie had predicted two years earlier.

It is also predictable that I forgave her for the verbal abuse.