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US speedskater makes Winter Olympic team thanks to teammate’s selfless act


(MILWAUKEE) — Erin Jackson, a 20-year-old American long track speedskater from Ocala, Florida, narrowly had her dreams dashed of making her second Winter Olympic team.

At the U.S. long-track speedskating trials on Friday, Jackson — the current No. 1 in World Cup rankings for the women’s 500-meter — had a costly slip on the backstretch of the ice that placed her one spot shy of qualifying. However, Olympic bronze medal speedskater and longtime friend Brittany Bowe, who qualified for three events at this year’s games, selflessly relinquished her qualifying spot in the women’s 500-meter to Jackson.

“It’s hard to even put it into words. I’m beyond grateful and humbled and just, I’m happy,” Jackson said, standing alongside her teammate in an interview with NBC Sports after the event. “I’ve known her almost my whole life — growing up with her in Ocala, [Florida] looking up to her — I’ve always known what an incredible person she is and it’s really showing.”

After seeing the “unfortunate slip,” Bowe said, “I knew in my mind before that night was even over that if it had to come down to a decision of mine, she could have my place.”

“Erin has earned her right to be on this 500-meter team. She’s ranked No. 1 in the world and no one’s more deserving than her to get an opportunity to bring Team USA home a medal,” she said.

Jackson took to Instagram after officially qualifying to thank Bowe and share the news.

“Definitely not the way I imagined qualifying for my second Olympic team… but I guess I had to one-up my story from the 2018 Trials. I’m incredibly grateful and humbled by the kindness of Brittany Bowe in helping me to secure a chance at reaching my goals in Beijing 2022,” she wrote in the caption. “She’s an amazing friend, teammate, and mentor and this is an act I’ll never forget. You can bet I’ll be the loudest voice in the oval cheering for her in the 1000 and 1500 next month.”

To summarize for fans and followers who may not have seen how the trials played out, Jackson said: “I almost fell in the qualifying race and ended up finishing third, which was one spot short of Olympic qualification. Brittany, who won the race, declined her position in the 500m to open up a spot for me on the team. (She will still compete in her two other distances).”

Jackson, who switched from inline skating and training, made Olympic team history four years ago as the first Black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team in long-track speedskating.

The opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics are set to take place Feb. 4.

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