Erin Jackson Exceeding Expectations

Feb. 01, 2019, 12:23 p.m. (ET)

After making the 2018 Olympic team, Erin Jackson was invited to train with the long track national team at the Utah Olympic Oval. That usually happens the other way around. But the Florida speed skater has exceeded all expectations since she switched from inline to long track skating in March 2017.

Now in Hamar, Norway, preparing to skate in World Cup 5, Erin heads to Inzell, Germany, next week to compete in the World Single Distance Championships. Her goal is to finish in the top 12 to qualify for the World Cup Finals in March.

“I’m hoping to at least maintain,” Erin says. “I’ve hit most of my goals this year; qualifying for the World Single Distance, getting bumped to the A group at world cups, and making a top 10 finish in a world cup. I need to work on my 1000m so I can make the World Sprint Championship team.”

Erin has always been an overachiever. She competed in the beauty pageant circuit from the age of 10 months to 9 years, and says that experience taught her how to stand up for herself, how to be poised and how to present herself well, even when she was nervous.

After a two-year stint with figure skating, Erin started racing inline in 2002 at 10 years old, working with coach Renee Hildebrand, who had also coached Olympians Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia. Erin excelled at inline competitions earning nearly 50 national championship titles, a silver medal in the 2015 Pan American Games and recognition as a three-time USOC Female Athlete of the Year for Roller Sports.

In October 2016, she stayed with a friend who attended a long track training camp in Germany. “I didn’t really have an interest in speedskating at that time. Then Chris Needham (USS Talent Recruiter) contacted me to come to the oval in March 2017.”

Her first time skating on ice was a lesson in humility for the inline world champ, but while working with USS Head Coach Ryan Shimabukuro, Erin found her feet and progressed rapidly through drills, technique practices and competitions.

“What I like about speedskating is the challenge to get better, because I’m not that great a skater yet,” she says. “I feel like I have a way to go, especially technically.”

Erin is also pursuing another passion: science. On top of a rigorous training and competition schedule, Erin is working toward a degree in computer science, attending classes at Salt Lake Community College. She already has a recent materials science and engineering degree from the University of Florida.

Relocating to Utah from Florida, Erin misses the warm weather, but doesn’t miss the humidity. She knows training here will take her to the next level of competition. She’s working on faster starts, smoother gliding, staying low and staying mentally tough.

“I haven’t really had a problem with the mental game,” she says. “Don’t see something as a failure or disappointment. Find something you can learn from and do better next time.”