Jackson makes history with first Gold Medal of Beijing 2022
by US Speedskating
Erin Jackson won gold and made history in the Women’s 500m for the first US Speedskating medal of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games.
Jackson blazed to a time of 37.04 to best Japanese Silver Medalist Miho Takagi (37.12) and Russian Olympic Committee Bronze Medalist Angelina Golikova (37.21).
Jackson becomes the first Black woman to win an individual speed skating Gold Medal. She also won the first individual medal for a US Speedskating Olympian since Shani Davis in 2010 and the first individual women’s medal for the U.S. since 2002. Jackson’s medal is also US Speedskating’s first overall podium since a Bronze Medal in the Women’s Team Pursuit event at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.
“I think I cried immediately,” Jackson said. “Just a big release of emotion. A lot of shock, a lot of relief and a lot of happiness.”
US Speedskating also advanced comfortably through the Men’s Team Pursuit Quarterfinals with a strong second place performance and time of 3:37.51 from Ethan Cepuran, Casey Dawson and Emery Lehman.
“We train together every single day,” Cepuran said. “It shows today because we’re not the three of the strongest skaters in the world but together we’re one of the strongest teams in the world.”
Brittany Bowe and Kimi Goetz joined Jackson in the Women’s 500m field – finishing 16th with a time of 38.04 and 18th with a time of 38.25 respectively.
After Jackson slipped in her Olympic Trials qualifying race in January to finish third and without a spot on the Olympic team, Bowe selflessly relinquished her spot so Jackson could compete in Beijing. Team USA was later awarded a third spot in the 500m distance to allow Bowe to skate as well.
“Words cannot explain how proud I am of her. I knew she had the chance to do something really special and she just showed the world why she deserved to be here,” Bowe said. “She’s an Olympic Champion.”
Lehman and Cepuran previously skated the 5000m events in Beijing, finishing 16th and 17th, respectively. Lehman and Dawson also skated in the 1500m event with placements of 11th and 28th place.
Bowe previously raced and finished 10th in the women’s 1500m event in Beijing.
Jackson said she hopes her historical accomplishment inspires and resonates with a new generation to lace up skates for the first time.
“Hopefully it has an effect,” Jackson said. “Hopefully we can see more minorities especially in the USA getting out and trying some of these winter sports.”
On the short track side, the U.S. women skated to an 8th place overall finish in the 3000m Relay. After receiving the final exchange, Kristen Santos collided with Arianna Fontana causing her to lose balance and slide into the pads. The U.S. team received a penalty for an illegal lane change during the straightaway.
“Obviously the end result was a little disappointing, we had some bad luck again which is frustrating and it gets more tiring to deal with every time,” Julie Letai said. “Trying to keep in perspective is the best thing we can do. A year and a half ago I don’t think anyone expected us to be here even heading into World Cups this year. We still have that underdog energy going and I think even though the results didn’t end up the way we were hoping, I think we really showed where we’re at, the amount of growth that we’ve had, and I couldn’t be prouder of my teammates.”
Ryan Pivirotto was the lone American in the Men’s 500m Quarterfinal rounds in which he skated to a 16th place overall in the distance classification.
“Going into the race I remembered what I’ve gone through to get here and it was kind of emotional,” Pivirotto said. “When I got off the line, I was focused on the race and getting out there and really getting after it.”
Racing continues for long track on Tuesday Feb. 15th at 2:30pm Beijing time, 1:30am EST and Monday Feb. 14th 11:30pm MST for the Men's Team Pursuit Finals. Short track races continue with the Women’s 1500m is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Beijing time, 6:30am EST/ 4:30am MST on Wednesday, Feb. 16th.