Erin Jackson Becomes 1st Black American Woman to Win Speedskating World Cup

Erin Jackson Becomes 1st Black American Woman to Win Speedskating World Cup
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At this point in the last Olympic cycle, Erin Jackson was two months into her career as a full-time speed skater. Now she’s an Olympic gold-medal favorite and American record holder.Jackson broke an eight-year-old American record in winning the women’s 500m at a World Cup in Salt Lake City on Friday. The 29-year-old Floridian clocked 36.80 seconds, breaking 37 for the first time and lowering the record of 36.90 set by Heather Bergsma in 2013. Most records in speed skating are set in Salt Lake City or Calgary, which are at altitude.Jackson prevailed by .12 over reigning world champion Angelina Golikova of Russia. Jackson has won four of the five World Cup 500m races this season — after coming into the campaign with a best finish of ninth.In early December 2017, Jackson had yet to break 40 seconds in the 500m after converting from inline skating (and roller derby). She did at the 2018 Olympic Trials, placing third in the 500m to become the first Black woman to make a U.S. Olympic long-track team.This season, she became the first Black woman to win an individual World Cup race, according to US Speedskating.Jackson will look to qualify at the Olympic Trials next month, then set her sights on becoming the first U.S. woman to win an individual Olympic speed skating medal since 2002 and the first to win the 500m since Bonnie Blair in 1994.

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Erin Jackson

Erin Jackson (born September 19, 1992) is an American speedskater, inline skater and roller derby player. She qualified for The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland where she competed in inline speed skating in various distances on road and track. She also qualified to compete in the 500 meters long track speed skating event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

In November 2021 she won her first 500 meters Speedskating World Cup races in Poland with two track records, making her the first Black American woman to win in the World Cup.

Early life and education

Erin Jackson was born in Ocala, Florida to Tracy and Rita Jackson. She has one brother. Jackson first skated at eight years old when she tried figure skating. Jackson attended Shores Christian Academy, Howard Middle School, and Forest High School. She then went on to the University of Florida, where she graduated with honors from the Materials Science & Engineering program.

Career

Jackson won gold in the 500-m inline skating race at the 2008–09 Junior World Championships, gold in the same event at the 2014 Pan American Championships, and was named United States Olympic Committee Female Athlete of the Year for Roller Sports in 2012 and 2013. She also competes in roller derby with the Jacksonville RollerGirls of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), earning the MVP award at the 2014 WFTDA Division 1 Playoff in Evansville, Indiana, and advancing to WFTDA Championships in both 2015 and 2016.

She qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics with only four months of experience in speedskating on ice.  Coached by Renee Hildebrand, Jackson qualified at the 500 meter distance,  and finished 24th out of 31 competitors in Pyeongchang.

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Erin Jackson Becomes 1st Black American Woman to Win Speedskating World Cup

In 2018, Jackson became the first Black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic long-track speedskating team after being on the ice for only four months

Erin Jackson
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Erin Jackson of Team United States poses for a portrait during the Team USA Beijing 2022 Olympic shoot on September 12, 2021 in Irvine, California.

Erin Jackson made history Friday when she became the first Black American woman to take the winning title at the ISU Speed Skating World Cup.

On Friday, Nov. 12, the 29-year-old athlete competed in the women’s 500-meter event at the Arena Lodowa in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland, and finished with a time of 37.613 seconds to clinch her first World Cup gold medal.

Jackson beat out Japan’s defending 2018 Olympic champion Nao Kodaira by 0.13 second. The competing field also included all three of the medalists who competed at the world championships in February 2021, an event Jackson didn’t compete in.

The Associated Press reported that prior to her win on Friday, Jackson’s previous best World Cup finish was in ninth place.

The Florida native told Dutch broadcaster NOS that her win was a “big surprise,” adding, “I was hoping to be in podium position.”

Jackson said that much like her fellow athletes, she’s “dreaming of Olympic gold.”

“It’s still really early, so it’s anyone’s game, but I’m definitely feeling more confidence now,” she said.

Bonnie Blair was the last woman from the United States to win an Olympic medal in the 500-meter final, winning the last of three consecutive Olympic titles back in 1994. Shani Davis, the most successful Black male speed skater in history, has won four Olympic medals, two of which are golds.

Jackson is one to watch for the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022. She is the first Black woman to not only compete on the national long-track speedskating team but also qualify in 2018 for the U.S. Olympic long-track speedskating team. At the time, she had only spent four months on the ice after switching over from inline skating and roller derby. She is a member of U.S. national team for all three sports, according to her website.

At the end of October, Jackson shared a celebratory post on Instagram after winning first place in the 500-meter qualifiers and topping her personal record with a time of 37.08 seconds. She shared two photos of herself in action, followed by a video clip of her competing in the race.

“Last weekend at the Fall World Cup Qualifier I ended up with 1st place in the 500m (new personal best time) and 3rd place in the 1000m,” she wrote in the caption. “With those results I will be competing in the upcoming World Cup circuit in both distances. This is my first time qualifying for a spot in the 1000m and I’m pretty excited about it!”

 

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