Erin Jackson (USA) enjoyed a flying start to the Olympic Speed Skating season in Tomaszów Mazowiecki (POL) on Friday. The 29-year-old US sprinter won the first Women’s 500m of the 2021/22 ISU World Cup series at the Arena Lodowa in 37.61 seconds, beating Nao Kodaira’s track record by 0.16s. Irene Schouten (NED) also clocked a track record to win the Women’s 3000m.
Erin Jackson (USA) with her Women's 500m gold medal © International Skating Union (ISU)
Jackson was paired with Olga Fatkulina (RUS) in the penultimate of 10 heats and left her opponent behind straight from the start with a 10.39s opener.
Only Angelina Golikova (RUS) and Marsha Hudey (CAN) were faster over the first 100m, but the Russian World Champion had a slower lap and finished in 38.08s to come fourth, while Hudey ranked 19th.
Jackson was surprised by her first World Cup victory. She didn’t compete internationally last season, missing out on the Heerenveen bubble do to a badly timed eye injury.
“I was moving from one house to another, and a bungee cord snapped and got stuck in my eye. So, I was out for a month or so,” she said.
Jackson’s win showed once again that the transition between inline skating and Speed Skating can be very successful. She switched sports in 2017.
“My first season was 2017/2018 season. It didn't feel easy at the time but, looking back, it was kind of a quick transition. So I ended up going to the 2018 Olympics. And that was my first international event.”
At those Games in PyeongChang, Jackson ended up 24th in the 500m. Winning her first World Cup race in Poland gives her a better perspective for the 2022 Games in Beijing.
“It's still early in the season, of course. It's like anyone's game, but I'm going for the top, of course.”
Silver medalist Nao Kodaira of Japan © International Skating Union (ISU)
Silver and bronze
Fatkulina couldn’t keep up with Jackson but managed to get on to the podium in third place in 38.07s.
"I was surprised with Erin's speed,” she said. “But I followed my plan and got the bronze, not so bad for the first stage of the World Cup."
Silver medalist Kodaira had already beaten her own 2019 track record by 0.03 seconds before Jackson and Fatkulina got on to the ice.
The Olympic Champion was back in the international field after Japan decided not to travel to Europe for the shortened bubble season in Heerenveen last year.
“I’m so happy that we can compete with the other nations again,” she smiled. Having suffered from a back ache over the past few years Kodaira was also happy to be able to skate without pain, which means more to her than her results at the Olympic Games in Beijing next February.
“I want to enjoy skating. Gold, silver or bronze, that doesn’t matter.”
Irene Schouten (NED) © International Skating Union (ISU)
Schouten not used to winning yet
Irene Schouten (NED) has already won 13 Mass Start races in the World Cup over the past eight years but she won her first World Cup gold medal in a classic distance only last season. She also won the 3000m and 5000m races at the Dutch national championships in October, and in Poland she started the international campaign with another 3000m gold in a track record four minutes, 04.00 seconds.
“Winning, I never get used it,” she smiled.
Schouten beat Isabelle Weidemann (CAN), who ended up second after also having broken, in a previous pairing, the 2019 track record, which was set by Martina Sáblíková (CZE) and had stood at 4:06.13. Sáblíková herself finished in sixth place in 4:07.46, while Francesca Lollobrigida (ITA) took bronze in 4:06.52.
Weidemann’s track record had not distracted Schouten.
“I was not really looking to the other girls but of course I saw the time and I thought OK, it’s possible to beat.”
During her race, Schouten did have to make amends, however.
“I saw my second lap and it was really slow. I knew, if I want to win, I had to be faster than that lap, so then I thought OK, now I need the speed. I built up the speed and my laps went faster.”
Happy as she was with the gold medal, Schouten realized that the season’s still young.
“I'm really happy but it's not really important at the moment for me. It’s more important for getting in a good shape in the qualification for the Olympics.”
Fuel for training
Weidemann was excited to be able to start a regular international World Cup season again.
“It's really exciting. I used it a lot as fuel this summer, through our hard training blocks, to remember that we get to come back and race and the team is just so stoked to be here.”
Like Schouten, she knows that being on the podium in November doesn’t say much about her chances at the Olympic Games in February.
“I'm trying not to read too much into it. The season is so long and obviously all of us want to do the best we can at the Olympics. I'm trying to take it slow, and I feel really great that I get to at least push the top, but (there is) lots of work left to do.”
500m Women race
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings 500m Women
3000m Women race
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings 3000m Women
The event entry quotas for the individual distances will be determined by the Special Olympic Qualification Classification (SOQC) based on results from the different ISU World Cup Speed Skating Competitions and the full details are available in ISU Communication 2405.
For full entry lists and further information regarding the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series please visit: isu.org/speed-skating. Results are here and you can follow the discussion on social media by using #SpeedSkating.
Where to Watch
Viewers will be able to watch either via their national broadcaster / channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel. You will find the full list in the Where to Watch news here.
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Highlights, clips, interviews, behind the scenes:
YouTube: ISU Skating
Follow the conversation with #SpeedSkating.
For further information on ISU Speed Skating visit https://www.isu.org/speed-skating
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series 2021/22:
About ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series
The ISU World Cup Speed Skating is a Series of international Speed Skating competitions which takes place annually. The Series started in 1984 and usually consists of six or seven Events including the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Final. However during the Olympic season the Series consists of five Events.
Skaters can earn points at each competition, and the Skater who has the most points on a given distance at the end of the Series is the World Cup winner of that distance. The World Cup Competitions held from November to December serve as qualifying events for entry quotas at the ISU European, World Single Distances, World Sprint and World Allround Speed Skating Championships and during the Olympic season they are Olympic Qualifying Events. A number of World Cup titles are awarded every season; For Men: 500m, 1000m, 1500m, combined 5000m / 10,000m, Mass Start, Team Pursuit and Team Sprint. For Women 500m, 1000m, 1500m, the combined 3000m / 5000m, Mass Start, Team Pursuit and Team Sprint. For further information please visit isu.org/WorldCupSpeedSkating.