An Uncharacteristic Slip in 500 Keeps Top-Ranked Erin Jackson From U.S. Speed Skating Team

The U.S. speedskating trials to qualify for the upcoming Winter Olympics took an unexpected turn Friday after Erin Jackson stumbled in the second straightaway of the 500-meter race, finishing third and failing to qualify for Team USA in an event in which Jackson is ranked No. 1 in the world.

Jackson, the first Black woman to win a World Cup event when she won the gold medal in the 500 meters in Poland in November, has won four of eight World Cup races at the distance this season, along with one second- and third-place finish each.

The slip-up put her final time at 38.24 seconds, short of the top two times of 37.86 and 37.81 by Kimmi Goetz and Brittany Bowe, respectively.

Jackson requested a re-skate, but wasn't given one because the rules say a re-skate is only allowed if a skater falls entirely or experiences a mechanical failure.

"The rules are you have to fall to get a re-skate," Jackson said in an interview on USA Network after the race. "In the 500 even a stumble is enough to take you out of it. Maybe I should have sat down."

Jackson's only way onto the team now would be if one of Goetz or Bowe isn't available for the Olympics, or if they choose to pass their spot on to Jackson.

Erin Jackson, Speed Skating, Winter Olympics Qualifying
Erin Jackson competes in the Women's 500 meter event during the 2022 U.S. Speedskating Long Track Olympic Trials at the Pettit National Ice Center on Friday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jackson, ranked No. 1 in the 500 in the world, slipped during the race and finished third, missing a spot to qualify for Team USA. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

"I messed up, it's definitely on me," Jackson, "but it would be nice to get that re-skate."

Jackson bobbled in the second straightaway of the sprint at the Pettit National Ice Center.

Jackson would be a gold-medal favorite in Beijing.

Bowe and Goetz already qualified for Beijing by finishing first and second in the 1,000 on Thursday. Bowe and Jackson are friends from Ocala, Florida.

"All I can do is wait and see if someone declines their spot, I could go," Jackson said. "I'm not giving up hope yet."

The Americans have qualified two spots for the women's 500 in next month's Olympics.

"Nothing that can be done rule-wise to get her into the Olympics," said Matt Kooreman, national long track program director. "It really is winner-take-all here at the Olympic trials."

U.S. Speedskating must submit its final Olympic roster by Jan. 17.

Kooreman said it would be up to either Bowe or Goetz to decide if they wanted to give up their spot in the 500.

Bowe has specialized in the 1,000 and 1,500 during her career, although she won a silver medal in the 500 at the 2015 World Single Distance Championships. She finished fifth in the 500 at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games and was 13th in the event in her 2014 Olympic debut.

Goetz was fifth in the 500 at the 2020 World Single Distance Championships. She is a first-time Olympian.

Neither of them would be as strong a medal contender as Jackson, who remained composed after her shocking slip.

"Erin Jackson is a complete class act," Kooreman said. "To see this happen to her in particular is heartbreaking."

Jordan Stolz won the men's 500 in a track-record 34.55 to qualify for his second Olympic event. The 17-year-old phenom won the 1,000 also in track-record time on Thursday.

"It's pretty nice to be able to do two of them, especially since they're two of my best distances," Stolz said.

His parents are working as volunteers at the trials to be able to watch him in person after spectators were banned because of rising COVID-19 cases.

Austin Kleba finished second in 35.17, although he will have to wait to see if he'll go to Beijing since the U.S. men only have one quota spot in the event. Final quota reallocations for the Olympics will be done later this month.

"I've done everything I could up to now, so whatever the outcome is, I'm happy with my performance for sure," Kleba said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.