The Dallas Morning News

Speedskati­ng ‘newbie,’ is surprise Olympian

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Erin Jackson is the rawest of Olympic rookies. As a kid careering around roller rinks in Florida, she never dreamed of gold.

She just loved going fast on wheels, earning the well-deserved nickname “Speedy.” Spotted by an inline coach one day, Jackson was soon on a team and spent 15 years piling up titles and traveling the world. But inline skaters can only go so far in their sport. There is no grand stage like the Olympics.

Last February, Jackson crossed over from inline skating to try the ice for the first time in Salt Lake City. She traveled a well-worn path that had been paved by such inline-to-ice successes as Apolo Ohno, Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia.

Jackson was tabbed to be part of the Internatio­nal Skating Union’s Developmen­t Transition Program that aims to help athletes from other sports to adapt to speedskati­ng.

She was already well establishe­d on wheels, winning 47 national championsh­ips and being named Female Athlete of the Year for roller sports three times. Blades were a different story. Jackson struggled to adapt to skating on the edge of a 1-millimeter-wide blade.

The 25-year-old skater stayed in Salt Lake City for a month, then left to spend the summer competing in inline.

She planned to compete in Milwaukee only as a way to gauge how she was doing, with her long-term plan to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Games. But she shocked everyone, including herself. Jackson finished third in the 500 meters — consisting of two runs — to claim a spot in the Pyeongchan­g Olympics.

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