Speed Skater Erin Jackson Shares How Representation in Winter Sports Can Make All the Difference

Speed Skater Erin Jackson Shares How Representation in Winter Sports Can Make All the Difference

by Sue Jones
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How has your relationship with teammate Brittany Bowe been a source of emotional strength and support for you?
I’ve known Brittany since I was 10 years old and she’s a few years older than me. Back when we were growing up on the same team in Florida, it was more like I was the little kid looking up to her as the big kid. 

Since moving out to Salt Lake City and being on the national team together, it’s been more of a peer relationship together. She’s been there for me not just as a mentor, but also as a really good friend. It’s been pretty cool. When she had my back at the Olympic Trials—it’s hard to imagine someone doing like that for you—I was really grateful.

With her giving you that spot on the Olympics team, did you feel any added pressure and weight to make sure that you performed really well or placed?
No, not really in a bad way. It’s more like: She believed in me, so I believed in myself even more, if that makes sense.

What are your thoughts on the ongoing conversation about the mental health of athletes—especially young female athletes and young female athletes of color—and the pressure the media puts on them?
I think it’s a really important conversation to have. I’m really glad that mental health is coming more to the forefront of things that we need to focus on. I’ve heard the phrase “mental health is health” a lot. I think that’s really important. As far as media pressure goes—yeah, it’s like, I wish people were nicer. But if people can’t be nicer, then it’s important to get it out there that it’s okay to really focus on your mental health, to take care of yourself, and to seek help if you need it.

How do you take care of your own mental health, during training and competition and in your daily life?
The biggest thing for me is definitely stress management. I don’t like being stressed. I try to be a pretty calm, cool, and relaxed person most of the time. To avoid getting too stressed out, sleep is one of my favorite things in the world, so I try to make sure I get enough sleep. Also staying on top of my schedule and not getting behind on things. Because when I feel rushed, I get stressed, and stress is bad.

Are there other self-care things you do to help you manage that stress, in addition to getting good sleep?
One of the biggest parts of stress relief for me is hanging out with my pets. Hanging out, just the four of us, watching TV or something. I have two cats and a dog. The cats are Bradley and Reggie, and the dog is Winnie…Hopefully I’ll get to see them soon.

What’s next for you, and what are you excited for? Are you going to chill out for a while?
Taking it far into the future, I’m looking forward to the next Olympic cycle. I’m not done yet. I’m really excited to start improving on more things. I’m having fun with it. 

A little bit closer than that, I’m looking forward to a bit of relaxation. Just taking some time to be with my friends, maybe go back to Florida for a little bit and see my family and friends who are still there. And before that, my season’s not quite over yet. Next week I’m going to meet back up with my team and head to Norway and then to the Netherlands because we have a couple more races.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity. 


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