U.S. speedskating star Erin Jackson headed to Winter Olympics after teammate Brittany Bowe gives up spot

In a golden gesture at the Olympic trials, American Bowe offered to give her place in the women’s 500m at Beijing 2022 to friend and World No. 1 Jackson. Both will compete at the Winter Games.

By Andrew Binner
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Take a bow, Brittany Bowe. In what was undoubtedly the feel-good story of the weekend, the USA Speed skating star gave up the place she had earned in the women’s 500m at this February’s Winter Olympics, to allow Erin Jackson to compete in the event instead.

World No. 1 Jackson was the heavy favourite to win the event at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Milwaukee. But the 29-year-old finished third after slipping in her race on Friday (7 January), effectively ruling her out of the Games.

The two qualification berths went to Bowe and Kimi Goetz, who finished first and second respectively.

But in a magnificent showing of friendship, Bowe, who also qualified for the 1000m and 1500m races at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, decided to give her place in the 500m to fellow Florida native Jackson.

“In my heart, there was never a question that I would do whatever it took - if it came down to me - to get Erin to skate at the Olympics.

“Hopefully we get three spots when we get to the Olympics, but as of now, it seems that the only way Erin will get to compete in the Olympics is if one of us gives up that spot,” 33-year-old Bowe said, in the hope that there will be a reallocation of berths from other nations later allowing them both to take part in the 500m.

"I’m hopeful that internally we can figure that out and all three of us are in Beijing,” she added.

In response, Jackson said, “I’m beyond grateful and humbled."

In November 2021, Jackson became the first black woman to win a speed skating World Cup event. Using that momentum, she went on to win four of eight 500m races that season and was touted as a major gold-medal threat at Beijing 2022.

Bowe’s golden gesture means that Jackson is set to make her second Olympic appearance, having finished 24th in the 500m at PyeongChang 2018.

“I was kind of given this gift from a very close friend of mine,” said former in-line skater Jackson. “And it would be awesome for both of us to be able to stand on the top of the podium in our races and just kind of share that moment.”

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