What to Know
- The 25-year-old skater from Ocala qualified in the 500 meters in early January
- Jackson becomes the third African-American to make the U.S. speedskating team for the Olympics in PyeongChang
- Jackson attended the University of Florida, graduating in 2015
Erin Jackson surprised herself and almost everyone else at the U.S. speedskating trials, becoming a first-time Olympian after just four months on ice.
Coming from the world of inline skating, Jackson qualified in the 500 meters by finishing third behind veterans Brittany Bowe and Heather Bergsma earlier this month.
The 25-year-old skater from Ocala, Florida, went 39.22 in her first heat. She was even better in her second run, going 39.04.
"I really wasn't expecting any of this, just coming in as a newbie, just trying to do the best I can," she said, smiling. "I still don't even know."
Jackson becomes the third African-American to make the U.S. speedskating team for the Olympics in PyeongChang. She joins fellow long-tracker Shani Davis and short-tracker Maame Biney, who is originally from Ghana.
Bowe and Bergsma had already earned spots in Pyeongchang by finishing 1-2 in the 1,000, so doubling up in another event cleared the way for Jackson to join them.
Her previous personal best was 39.51 set Dec. 23 in the high-altitude of Salt Lake City.
"A couple weeks ago, I was still in the 40s," Jackson said. "I think I hadn't even broken 40 (seconds) yet, so it's all happened really fast."
Jackson attended the University of Florida, graduating in 2015. Bowe is a former inline skater from Ocala and has been a teammate of Jackson's for several years.
"She's improving dramatically every time she steps on that ice," Bowe said. "She's at a point now where she can make those huge gains, so to see that two races in a row out here when the pressure is the highest is really promising for her and the sprint program for Team USA."