2022 Olympics: Erin Jackson captures speedskating gold, winning Florida’s second-ever winter medal

By Adam Silverstein
February 13, 2022
2022 Olympics: Erin Jackson captures speedskating gold, winning Florida’s second-ever winter medal
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Image Credit: AP

While the Florida Gators have historically dominated Summer Olympics by winning medals every four years and often controlling specific disciplines over long periods of time, the Southeast university does not exactly thrive when it comes to the Winter Olympics. In fact, Florida entered the 2022 Beijing Olympics with just one medal from an alumnus in history.

That changed Sunday morning as speedskater Erin Jackson, 29, brought home a gold medal for the United States in the 500 meters, finishing the race first in 37.04 seconds. In doing so, she became the first Black woman to medal in speedskating at the Olympics and the second Black person to ever do so, joining fellow American Shani Davis (2006).

Jackson also became the first Florida graduate to capture an individual Winter Olympics medal of any kind. The Ocala, Florida, native was not a scholarship athlete at the University of Florida, though she did play roller derby in her hometown while majoring in materials science & engineering.

Jackson’s Olympic dream appeared to be over at this year’s U.S. trials when she slipped and finished third in the 500m race. However, teammate Brittany Bowe, who finished first in the event and had already qualified for the Olympics at other distances, chose to give up her spot in the 500m to ensure Jackson, ranked No. 1 in the world, could compete at the Games. (As luck would have it, the U.S. earned an extra spot in the 500m, and Bowe was able to compete anyway.)

With her gold on Sunday, Jackson joins former decathlete Steve Mesler as the only Gators to win medals in the Winter Olympics. Mesler captured gold as part of the four-man U.S. bobsled team at the 2010 Vancouver Games; he was the right-side pusher for “Night Train”, a sled piloted by veteran driver Steve Holcomb.

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