The road to the 2018 Winter Olympics keeps getting better, and Team USA’s roster continues to be filled with impressive (and increasingly diverse) young women. This time, 25-year-old speed skater Erin Jackson, of Ocala, Florida, just became the first African-American woman to make Team USA’s long-track speed skating team. Long-track skating differs from the short-track competition by having its racers compete in pairs and around a much larger rink. It is widely considered to be the “fastest human powered” sport in the world.
If that wasn’t cool enough, Jackson is also new to speed skating. Like, really new. She’s only been practicing for four months! “I really wasn’t expecting any of this, just coming in as a newbie, just trying to do the best I can,” she explained to Sports Illustrated.
That said, before trying, and definitely succeeding at her new career, Jackson also did roller derby and was an inline skater for 15 years. (Inline skating is similar to speed skating, only one is a pack race and athletes wear four-wheel rollerblades on a roller rink. Like her work on the ice, Jackson excelled in inline skating and was named the best roller sport female athlete in 2012, 2013, and 2015.)
“I was coming into the Olympic trials this year just hoping to get some experience and, kind of see where I am after the time I’ve had on the ice,” she said during an interview on The Jim Rome Show. “It was definitely a goal of mine to be on Team USA… I just didn’t see it happening this quickly.”
Jackson will go on to race in the 500-meter long-track competition and will accompany Maame Biney, the first black woman — she turns 18 this month — on Team USA’s short-track speed skating team.