KSL OLYMPICS

Salt Lake Speedskater Hopes For Redemption In Second Chance at 500m

Feb 12, 2022, 11:09 PM | Updated: 11:12 pm

Erin Jackson of Team United States skates during a speed skating practice session ahead of the Beij...

Erin Jackson of Team United States skates during a speed skating practice session ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Speed Skating Oval on January 31, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

BEIJING — Utah’s long track speedskaters are back on the ice in Beijing Saturday night with one of the most anticipated races of the Games — the women’s 500m.

One of the favorites almost didn’t make the team.

Erin Jackson knows she wouldn’t be here if not for her teammate giving up her spot. So now, Jackson wants to prove she’s worthy of it, and is going into these Olympics with the confidence of knowing her team is counting on her.

A slight, little slip was enough to keep Jackson off the 500m U.S. long track Olympic team and she knew it. However, her teammate, Brittany Bowe, knows Jackson has a legitimate shot at a medal in that event, so she gave up her 500m spot so Jackson can skate in Beijing.

“It just makes it ten times more awesome, you know?” Jackson said.

This is Jackson’s second Olympics, but admits she was so new to the sport when she competed in PyeongChang in 2018, she wasn’t really sure she belonged.

“So, I was kind of thinking like, man, I wish I had started a little sooner so that I could, you know, maybe have a shot at it,” she said. “So yeah, it was definitely a surprise last time around.”

Like many long track skaters, Jackson comes from the in-line roller skating world, which isn’t an Olympic sport. So, to fulfill her dream of competing in the Olympics, she knew she had to switch to ice.

“Back when I was younger, I hated being cold, so I just never imagined coming out to ice. But yeah, decided to give it a shot one day and here I am,” Jackson said laughing.

She spends a lot of time at the Utah Olympic Oval — training, working out, doing whatever she can to not only make the Olympic team, but to win a medal. However, the past year has been tough because of COVID.

“I never actually caught COVID, but I was somehow around all the teammates who did get it,” Jackson said. “So, it’s like, anytime a teammate, like, tested positive last season, I had to quarantine. So I think I did, like, five or six quarantines last year.”

She loves her teammates, though, and with time, even figured out she loves the cold, too.

“I love Utah, which I was surprised. Like, I’m from Florida, and I feel like Utah and Florida kind of like, maybe polar opposites,” Jackson said laughing. “So, I was like, I don’t know about Utah. But since being here, yeah, I’ve loved it.”

The 500m race is Saturday night. Jackson will be skating, and so will Brittany Bowe.

Even though she gave up her spot to Jackson in the 500m, she was able to get another spot.

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Salt Lake Speedskater Hopes For Redemption In Second Chance at 500m