At this point in the last Olympic cycle, Erin Jackson was two months into her career as a full-time speed skater. Now she’s an Olympic gold-medal favorite and American record holder.
Jackson broke an eight-year-old American record in winning the women’s 500m at a World Cup in Salt Lake City on Friday. The 29-year-old Floridian clocked 36.80 seconds, breaking 37 for the first time and lowering the record of 36.90 set by Heather Bergsma in 2013. Most records in speed skating are set in Salt Lake City or Calgary, which are at altitude.
Jackson prevailed by .12 over reigning world champion Angelina Golikova of Russia. Jackson has won four of the five World Cup 500m races this season — after coming into the campaign with a best finish of ninth.
In early December 2017, Jackson had yet to break 40 seconds in the 500m after converting from inline skating (and roller derby). She did at the 2018 Olympic Trials, placing third in the 500m to become the first Black woman to make a U.S. Olympic long-track team.
This season, she became the first Black woman to win an individual World Cup race, according to US Speedskating.
Jackson will look to qualify at the Olympic Trials next month, then set her sights on becoming the first U.S. woman to win an individual Olympic speed skating medal since 2002 and the first to win the 500m since Bonnie Blair in 1994.
Later Friday, Swede Nils van der Poel broke the men’s 5000m world record, clocking 6:01.56. Dutch-born Canadian Ted-Jan Bloemen held the previous record of 6:01.86 set at the same oval in 2017.
Van der Poel broke the 10,000m world record at the world championships in February, where he swept the 5000m and 10,000m. He went nearly three years between racing after placing 14th in the 2018 Olympic 5000m. He enlisted in the military and did ultra running before returning to competition last December.
The Salt Lake City World Cup continues through Sunday. A broadcast schedule is here.
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