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Born in New York City, Haines claimed to be national champion in 1864. However, many such "championships" were held during those years, and none were sanctioned by a unifying figure skating organization. (The United States Figure Skating Association was not established until 1921.)
At this time, figure skating was performed in the "English style", which was rigid and formal. It was virtually nothing like what is performed today. Haines' style was a complete contrast to the English style; he used his ballet background to create graceful programs, and introduced accompanying music (a new concept at the time). He also screwed his figure skates directly onto his boots, which added stability and allowed him to do more athletic leaps and jumps. The typical practice of the time was to strap the blades onto the boot.
Haines' style was not well received in the United States. He therefore went to Europe to display and teach his style, which became known as the "International style". He lived in Vienna for a time, where his skating style became very popular.
Haines died of tuberculosis in Gamlakarleby (nowadays in Finnish: Kokkola, in Swedish: Karleby), Finland in 1875. His style did not become popular in the United States until many years after his death. The first American figure skating championships in the "International Style" were held on March 20, 1914, in New Haven, Connecticut.
Haines was the inventor of the sit spin, one of the three basic spin types. (The other two are the upright spin, about as old as the art of ice skating itself; and the camel spin, invented during the twentieth century by Cecilia Colledge.)
- U.S. Figure Skating History, accessed July 25, 2006.
- "International Style" Figure Skating Championship March 20, 1914, accessed July 25, 2006.
- Hall of Fame inductees, accessed July 25, 2006.