NewsErin Jackson

Erin Jackson Is The Latest Inline Skater To Thrive On Ice For US Speedskating

by Bob Reinert

Erin Jackson poses at a Team USA content shoot in West Hollywood, Calif.


If you think about Olympic speedskating hotbeds, Ocala, Florida, probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind. Erin Jackson is one of a handful of athletes changing that perception.
“I guess there are actually like five of us here from the same city who all made the switch over to ice,” said Jackson, who was training with the U.S. long track team in Salt Lake City. “So, it’s nice to have a little family zone here.”
Among those who also transitioned from skating on wheels in central Florida to ice with the U.S. team in Utah are Brittany Bowe, a 2018 Olympic bronze medalist and multi-time world champ, and Joey Mantia, a two-time Olympian and the defending world champion in the mass start.
“I’ve known Brittany since I was 10,” Jackson said. We grew up skating for the same team in Ocala. I’ve looked up to Brittany ever since I was a kid.
“She’s just always been a great person and a great athlete and just having her here as a trailblazer for me on the ice has been great, too. She’s always someone I can go to for tips or encouragement or everything. She’s great.”
Jackson, like Bowe and Mantia, got her start in the sport as an inline skater, where all three are highly accomplished. According to her US Speedskating bio, Jackson won 12 world championship medals and 47 national championships as an inline skater, and she was a three-time United States Olympic Committee Female of the Year for Roller Sports.
“I grew up as an inline skater,” Jackson said. “I started when I was 10 years old, and I still consider myself an inline skater. I love it. It’ll always be my first love. But unfortunately, inline speedskating is not an Olympic sport.”
Jackson, also an avid student who has an engineering degree and continues to take classes in other topics, knew that if she wanted to reach the Olympics, she would have to follow Bowe’s lead and put her dreams on ice — literally.
“It’s like a new challenge to try to master this new sport,” Jackson said. “And coming from inline definitely gave me a leg up when switching over to ice because they’re both forms of skating.

Erin Jackson competes in the women's 500-meter race oat the ISU World Cup Speed Skating on Dec. 8, 2018 in Tomaszow Mazoiecki, Poland.


“I still had a lot of things to overcome with the muscle memory from inline and trying to learn a brand-new technique with ice skating. It’s been hard but fun. Inline definitely gave me a good head start with making the switch so quickly.”
Quickly is an understatement. Four months after she traded her wheels for blades in 2017, she made the U.S. team, becoming the first Black woman to do so. The following year, she was in PyeongChang making her first Olympic appearance. She placed 24th in the 500-meter.
More recently, Jackson was seventh in the 500-meter at the 2020 World Single Distance Championships. At the Fall World Cup Qualifier in late October, she set a personal record of 37.08 seconds in winning the 500 meters and placed third in the 1,000 meters.
“With those results I will be competing in the upcoming World Cup circuit in both distances,” Jackson wrote in an Instagram post. “This is my first time qualifying for a spot in the 1000m and I’m pretty excited about it!”
The first of the season’s four long track world cup events takes place Nov. 12-14 in Poland. The second will be Nov. 19-21 in Norway.
The long track skaters then come home for a world cup in Salt Lake City in early December, followed by an event in Calgary. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials will be held in early January in Milwaukee.
Now 29, Jackson looks forward to competing with Team USA at her second Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. If she is successful in reaching the 2022 Games in February, Jackson knows that young girls and women of color will be watching her performances. She takes that seriously. 
“I’m definitely happy to be a face that young girls or people of color can see because visibility is really important,” Jackson said. “It’s just helpful to see someone like you doing something because then it’s like, ‘Oh, maybe I can do this, too.’ 
“I’m just happy to be a face that people can see, happy to get more people involved in speedskating.”
Jackson said she eventually would like to get involved in some sort of outreach or scholarship program to encourage minorities to get involved in speedskating, a sport they might not otherwise gravitate towards.
“If you look at the sport,” said Jackson, “there aren’t too many of us.”

Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.