Erin Jackson competes at the ISU World Cup Long Track on Dec. 3, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
If the fall world cup season is any indication, the U.S. long track speedskating team is rounding into form and could make some serious noise at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
At the fourth and final fall event this past weekend in Calgary, Americans produced six medals and two junior world records. Their performances pleased long track program director Matt Kooreman, who singled out Erin Jackson, Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia, all of Ocala, Florida, which has become an unlikely hotbed for the sport.
“It’s good momentum for us going forward,” Kooreman told US Speedskating. “I don’t think anyone had a perfect race either, and I know all three of them have things that they’ve identified from that race that they can do better.
“I think it’s a good way to end where you see success, but you also know you can do better. I think that will drive them going forward to the Games.”
With a few weeks to go before the U.S. Olympic Team Trials kick off Jan. 5 in Milwaukee, here’s where things stand for some of Team USA’s top Beijing hopefuls.
No one has made bigger strides this year than Jackson, who burst onto the scene in 2017, became the first Black woman to make the U.S. Olympic long track team and placed 24th in the 500 in her Olympic debut in 2018.
She’s been steadily improving in the years since, then took a huge leap this season. Jackson, 29, began the season by becoming the first Black American woman to win a speedskating world cup race, collecting gold medals in both 500 races in the first world cup event in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland. She followed that up by earning a gold medal and a silver medal the following weekend in Stavanger, Norway.
Then Jackson returned to American soil to claim her fourth gold medal of the season in the 500 at the Utah Olympic Oval. In the process, she set a personal best and broke the national record with a time of 36.809 seconds.
Rounding out the fall season in Calgary, Jackson collected a bronze medal in the 500 to give her four gold medals, a silver medal, and a bronze medal for the season. It’s little surprise that Jackson leads the world cup standings for the 500-meter event.