Her teammate gave up her spot so Erin Jackson could compete. Then Jackson won Olympic gold.

Erin Jackson just made history as the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic speedskating medal.

It's only been six years since Erin Jackson first strapped on a set of ice skates. Now she's the best female 500-meter speedskater on the planet.

Impressive? Um, yes.

Jackson, 29, just took home gold skating the 500-meter in the Olympics for Team USA, making her the first Black woman and just the second Black athlete to win an individual Olympic medal in any speedskating event. A historic moment, for sure, but the journey that brought Jackson to that moment is fascinating in more ways than one.

First of all, despite being the No. 1 ranked skater in the women's 500-meter going into the Olympic trials, Jackson slipped during her qualifying race and came in third. Only the top two finishers qualified for the Olympics, so she was out. However, her teammate and long-time friend Britanny Bowe, who came in first, gave up her spot so that Jackson could compete with Team USA. ("She deserves it," said Bowe, who would already be competing in the 1000-meter and 1500-meter Olympic races.)


"I'm incredibly grateful and humbled by the kindness of @BrittanyBowe in helping me to secure a chance at reaching my goals in #Beijing2022," Jackson wrote in an Instagram post. "She's an amazing friend, teammate, and mentor and this is an act I'll never forget. You can bet I'll be the loudest voice in the oval cheering for her in the 1000 and 1500 next month."

Considering the fact that Jackson brought home the gold, it was clearly the right call. As luck would have it, Bowe still got to compete in the 500-meter race, as the U.S. was granted a third spot in the International Skating Union’s final reallocation of places. She came in 16th.

So how did Jackson go from taking her first steps on the ice just six years ago to winning a gold medal in speedskating?

Jackson came into the sport as a world-class inline skater and artistic roller skater, so she was no stranger to gliding across a surface in boots. But according to Jackson's speedskating coach, Ryan Shimabukuro, ice-skating and rollerblading are two different beasts.

"There is a big difference in how you deliver power through a blade on ice versus through wheels on cement or concrete," Shimabukuro told NBC. "The timing of your push is different, how you apply force is different, your body position is different.”

Speedskating didn't come easily, Jackson told NBC. “When I started out on ice, I was like, ‘I’m a speedskater, and this is speedskating, and why isn’t this coming easier?’" she said. "I really struggled at the beginning."

Jackson was an eager learner, however, always asking questions about how to improve and asking Shimabukuro to explain things a different way if it wasn't clicking. In just two years, she made it to her first Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, where she placed 24th in the 500-meter event. Since then, she's only gotten better and better, winning her third straight World Cup championship in November 2021 and now the Olympic gold in Beijing.

Congratulations, Erin Jackson, not only for making history, but for showing the world what hard work can accomplish.

And thanks to Brittany Bowe for showing us what selflessness and friendship can accomplish as well.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

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Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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