Jerica started skating when she was 7. With the Olympic rink right behind her house, Jerica knew she wanted to go to the Olympics. Her parents would have her and her older sister go skate there every week. Her older sister was always interested in figure skating; however, Jerica saw girls speed skating and that’s what she fell in love with.
In an interview with Deseret News, she shares “I was kind of a tomboy, and I just wanted to compete,” she said. “I wanted to race people. I wanted to be the fastest.” She wasn’t all that concerned with twirling and spinning and jumping on the ice, she wanted to see how fast she could go.
Every day after school, she would race to get her homework done so that she could go to the rink faster. It was her favorite thing to do.
Her first race is on the 14th of February. She says in the Deseret News interview that she couldn’t have done it without the help of her family and the support of her faith in the Church. “It’s definitely part of who I am,” she said. “I think it’s helped me to have confidence in the things I do.”
After long hard days of training, Jerica can always fall back on her family. “I think no matter what I do, it’s just a big part of who I am,” she said. “I think because it’s a big part of our beliefs that family is at the center of pretty much everything. That helps me a lot. I know that no matter what happens, no matter what I do, that my family is there for me, and that helps a lot when you’re in a sport, no matter what happens, there are people who love you and support you.”
Jerica also shares how every Church and LDS ward is a little bit of home for her. She feels comfortable going and when she’s homesick, it calms her sickness. “It’s helped me through a lot of hard times in training and skating,” she said. “Being an elite-level athlete, there are a lot more lows than highs, there are a lot of disappointments, setbacks and hard training. And having that religious background helped me to get through those hard times.”
Jerica has pushed past many trials and struggles to come to the Olympics this year. She is so excited to compete. Her family is so excited for her as well. Her father commented when they heard the news. They were flying back from the tryouts in Milwaukee when they got the news.
“We started getting these texts congratulating us,” he said. “We were saying, ‘Is this serious?’ We tried to call her, but she was busy with the team and couldn’t answer. But then she texted us, and it’s just amazing.” They are excited to see Jerica compete and to cheer her on tonight!
“I’m just going to go out there and race the best I can and be happy with the time,” she said. “I don’t have any really high expectations for myself. I want to improve and learn from the experience. A lot of the teammates I train with every day, this will be their second or third Olympics, so it’s cool to experience it with them.”