BEIJING — Erin Jackson made history on a frenetic dash around Beijing's magnificent speedskating oval.
Jackson became the first Black woman to win a speedskating gold medal at the Winter Olympics with her 37.04-second performance in the 500 meters.
The 29-year-old Jackson joins fellow American Shani Davis as the only Black athlete to win speedskating medals at the Olympics. The silver went to Miho Takagi of Japan. Angelina Golikova of the Russian team took the bronze.
While Jackson doesn't look at herself as some sort of trailblazer, she recognizes the significance of the moment. She hopes her victory will encourage other people of color to take up winter sports.
The former inline and roller derby skater from sunny Florida has made huge strides since 2018. She shocked herself by making the U.S. Olympic speedskating team at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang — at that point she'd only been on the ice four months.
Jackson has dominated this season by winning four of the eight races and medaling in two others.
Jackson's spot on the Olympic team was in danger when she slipped at the U.S. trials. But once she got to Beijing, she made the most of her opportunity.
Jackson's gold was the first speedskating medal for the U.S. during the Beijing Games. The team won just one medal four years ago in Pyeongchang and was shut out at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Heading into the second week of the Games, the Americans hope to use Jackson's medal as a jump-start to more podium appearances. The men are favorites for gold in the team pursuit. Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia are medal threats in the 1,000.