Olympian Erin Jackson makes history


Bella Lee, Staff writer

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics started on Friday, Feb. 4, and just ended on Sunday, Feb. 20. This year’s Winter Olympics saw many triumphs, from Shaun White competing at his fifth and final Olympics to Ireen Wüst becoming the most decorated speed skater of all time.

However, one other speed skater was also able to make history, and that was Erin Jackson. The last time that the USA won a gold medal in the women’s 500-meter speed skating race was way back in 1994. Jackson, however, was able to claim victory with a run of only 37.04 seconds. This made her not only the first American woman to win speed skating gold in nearly 20 years, but the first Black woman to ever do it for Team USA.

Shockingly, Jackson, who made her Olympic debut in Pyeongchang in 2018, almost missed her chance to make it to the Olympics this year. During the trials, she stumbled, putting her in jeopardy for missing the competition. However, her savior came in the form of Brittany Bowe, who sacrificed her spot on the Olympic team so that Jackson could have her chance at chasing Olympic gold.

Bowe called it, “the right thing to do.” “Just for her to do something like this for me, it’s amazing,” Jackson stated.

“I’m just incredibly grateful. I’m really humbled, and she’s just an amazing person.” Jackson hails from Ocala, Florida, dubbed the “Horse Riding Capital of the World” and pretty much the last place you would expect a speed skater to come from.

Jackson did not even make her start with speed skating, surprisingly; she used to be a world renowned incline skater who had won 12 world championship medals and 47 national titles. In fact, her first time stepping onto the ice was just months before the Pyeongchang Olympics were slated to begin.

Jackson qualified for the Pyeongchang Olympics after just four months of rigorous training.

“I lived and trained in Salt Lake City, which is the fastest ice in the world, so realistically if you’re not going to get the time in Salt Lake City, you’re not going to get it in Milwaukee, which is where we had the Olympic trials,” said Jackson.

With her appearance in Pyeongchang, Jackson also became the first Black woman to make the USA speed skating team. While she finished 24th in the Olympics four years ago, she was able to quickly rise through the ranks and take gold this year. Before Jackson, the speed skater making headlines was Shani Davis, who at the 2006 Turin Olympics became the first Black athlete to win any individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

It is almost with total certainty that he is very proud of the history that Jackson made at the Beijing Olympics.The USA ought to be proud of her capability that she will most certainly carry in the future Olympics.