World Champion Jordan Stolz On The Fast Track For New World Cup Season
by Paul D. Bowker
Jordan Stolz’s speed skating dream began more than 10 years ago behind the family’s home in eastern Wisconsin.
“Right on the pond,” Stolz said. “That’s how we started.”
After first gaining an interest in the sport while watching the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games on TV, the now 19-year-old Stolz has become one of the fastest and most recognizable speed skaters in the world.
While back in the Netherlands this past summer, even Stolz’s barber recognized him.
“It was kind of funny,” Stolz said.
Stolz has spent his life on the ice, competing as a Youth Olympian at age 15 and an Olympian at age 17, but last year he set the international speed skating world on fire.
At the World Cup opener last November in Stavanger, Norway, Stolz at 18 became the youngest man to win a race on the circuit. By February, he had won seven medals, five of them Gold, at the Junior World Championships. Then at the World Championships in Heerenveen, Netherlands, he became both the youngest skater to win an individual World Championship and the first man to win three in the same year — which he did in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m.
Those championships changed Stolz’s life.
He signed a deal in May with Team Albert Heijn Zaanlander in the Netherlands and spent part of the late summer and early fall training with them in the Italian Alps and in the Netherlands.
He threw out the first pitch at a Milwaukee Brewers game in April.
“It was fun. My pitch wasn’t the greatest,” Stolz said. “I’ve never really played baseball, so when I got there, I didn’t realize we were going to be on a (pitching) mound.”
But when he is back home in Wisconsin, there are some things that have not changed for the teen who was homeschooled in Kewaskum and earned his high school diploma just a few months ago.
“Coming home, I still sit in my room and do nothing,” Stolz said with a laugh.
“Now I have the medals to look at. That’s always nice.”
All those Gold medals are wrapped around a bar frame that hold up the curtains in his bedroom. When Stolz opens his eyes in the morning, those are the first things he sees.
The medals are a reminder of his remarkable 2022-23 season and motivation for a new World Cup season that began on Nov. 10 in Obihiro, Japan.
“Topping something like last year would be pretty difficult,” Stolz said. “They do have a lot of World Championships this year. They have the World Single Distances Championships, World Sprint Championships and World Allround Championships, so there’s multiple competitions I’m able to go for. Obviously, World Single Distance is a big thing. World Allround is another really big thing … probably second biggest to winning an Olympic medal. In the skating world, that’s almost just as prestigious.”
Stolz has already proved he is set to begin the season in earnest. In a training run on Oct. 21, he broke his own Track Record at Pettit in the 1500m, clocking in at 1:42.80, becoming the first speed skater in history to go sub 1:43.00.
Then, Oct. 27-29 at the US Speedskating U.S. Championships at the Pettit National Ice Center, his home rink in Milwaukee, he won the Men’s 500m, 1000m, and the 1500m, setting a Track Record and shocking the world again with another lowland World Record in the 1500m with a time of 1 minute, 42.31 seconds.
A week later he showed up strong at the first World Cup in Obihiro, Japan, standing on the podium three different times with a Silver medal in the 1500m and Bronze medals in the 1000m and second 500m.
The foundation for this season was set while cycling and roller blading in the Italian Alps with Team Albert Heijn Zaanlander. They were based in Livigno, a ski resort town in northern Italy. Among some of the climbs they cycled were those used in the annual Giro d’Italia race.
“It was really nice biking there in the mountains,” Stolz said. “We experienced some of those (Giro d’Italia) climbs. It was some really good training over there.”
After that, the team moved on to some ice training in the Netherlands, a place where speed skating is king and the skaters enjoy celebrity recognition.
“It’s really important,” he said. “Besides soccer, people really care about this sport a lot. I mean, it’s their national sport, and has been since the 1800s.”
“They’re really proud about it,” Stolz added. “You get recognized on the streets.”
Stolz will get his share of recognition, and challenges, on the ice this season. He won four Gold medals and four Silver medals in World Cup individual races last season, in addition to a Bronze medal in a Team Sprint.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of tension and a lot of battles to come,” Stolz said. “It’s going to be real exciting.”
The next monumental battle he has on his horizon is the Olympic Winter Games, to be held in Milano and Cortina, Italy, in 2026, which figures prominently in his plans.
“It still is a factor in my training and my thought process,” Stolz said, “because I’m still planning to reach to my best performance at the Olympics. …
“I’m doing more during training to prepare for that year, so if something happens or if I need to focus more on sprints during that year, I’ll still have that base. Planning now, two years out, is a really reasonable thing to do.”
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic and Paralympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to USSpeedskating.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.