Watch Erin Jackson skate into U.S. history Sunday at 6:56 a.m. on the NBC app or at 7 p.m. for NBC’s primetime coverage as she competes as the first African American woman on Team USA’s long-track speed skating team.
Erin Jackson has a new material in her life: Ice.
The 2015 University of Florida Materials Science and Engineering alumna traded her inline skates for ice skates just four months ago. Now she is competing in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Sunday as a member of Team U.S.A. in Olympic long-track speedskating.
She finished third in the 500-meter race during the Olympic trials in Milwaukee snagging the final of three spots. Before the qualifying races, Jackson had never skated the course in less than 40 seconds. In Milwaukee, she had two personal bests completing the course in 39.22 seconds and 39.04 seconds.
It has been reported that Jackson was shocked to not just surpass her Top 10 dreams but make the team.
Even more surprising, Jackson is from Ocala, where the closest ice rinks are more than an hour away. Though inline skating has been a feeder for top ice speedskating competitors.
During her time in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Jackson worked with Dr. Jack Mecholsky. Her undergraduate thesis focused on fracture mechanics of dental ceramics and was completed in conjunction with UF’s Center for Dental Biomaterials.
“I think she developed the skills of organization and timeliness from her love of athletics,” Mecholsky said. “Her senior thesis work was outstanding and will contribute to a journal publication.”
She graduated cum laude with her bachelor’s degree.
Prior to coming to UF, Jackson graduated from Forest High School, where she was in the EMIT (Engineering and Manufacturing Institute of Technology) program.
Jackson joins Olympic speedskaters and Ocala natives Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia.
Please join MSE and UF in congratulating and cheering on Jackson during the Olympics this February.