A costly slip at U.S. Speed Skating Trials may keep the world’s top-ranked athlete in the women’s 500m event out of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Erin Jackson, winner of four World Cup 500m races in 2021 and the presumed Olympic favorite, stumbled on the back stretch of her heat at U.S. Trials and finished third behind Brittany Bowe and Kimi Goetz. Only the top-two finishers were guaranteed spots on the U.S. Olympic Team for speed skating.
“Everything felt good, it was going as planned, and then on the back stretch I’m not really sure what happened. I lost my footing a little bit,” Jackson said after the race.
Because she regained her balance and continued on with her race, Jackson’s request for a re-skate – something traditionally made available to high-ranking athletes who crash out at Trials – was denied.
“I feel like I messed up. It’s definitely on me, but it would’ve been awesome to get that re-skate,” a composed Jackson said shortly after the ruling was announced. “Especially being the No. 1-ranked in the world, it would be strange to not go [to the Winter Olympics].”
Jackson, knowing the rule, said she momentarily considered taking a dive after the slip in order to guarantee herself a chance at a do-over. “Of course it flashed through my head… but I think it’s just a bad thing to encourage that. So I think for a race like the 500, there should be special considerations because it comes down to such a tight time difference.”
However, Jackson might end up getting rewarded for her decision to finish the race. The U.S. is first in line for any reallocated Olympic spots should another country decline a spot for any reason. Because Jackson’s time was still good enough for third, that reallocated spot would go to her.
“I’m not giving up hope yet. Just [going to] wait and see what shakes out.” Jackson said.
Bowe and Goetz both also qualified for the Olympic Team in the 1000m on Thursday.
1. Brittany Bowe - 37.81
2. Kimi Goetz - 37.86
3. Erin Jackson - 38.24
With only one guaranteed Olympic Team spot on the line in the men's 500m, 17-year-old Jordan Stolz backed up his breakout performance in Thursday's 1000m to win his second event in as many days.
Skating at his home training center, Stolz clocked in at 34.55 for the win. No other skater managed to break 35 seconds. Stolz now shifts his focus to February's Winter Olympics, with an additional three weeks of training to accelerate his meteoric rise in speed.
22-year-old former hockey player Austin Kleba swiped the second place finish in 35.17. Should enough U.S. men double-up in events, a spot on Team USA could open up for Kleba.
Jordan Stolz - 34.55
Austin Kleba - 35.17
Cooper McLeod - 35.22