Record-Setters Stolz, Myers Leads U.S. Into Long Track Junior Worlds
by Bob Reinert
Record-setting performances this season by Jordan Stolz and Greta Myers show that duo is primed to lead the U.S. team into the ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships, which take place Feb. 10-12 at Max Aicher Arena in Inzell, Germany.
Coming off his Olympic debut last year, Stolz, an 18-year-old from Kewaskum, Wisconsin, opened the season in November by becoming the youngest man to win a World Cup race when he won the 1500m in Stavanger, Norway
Since then Stolz has racked up five more World Cup medals, set a bevy of American and Junior World Records on the track and earlier this month added three titles and as many Track Records at the U.S. Championships at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee.
On the same October weekend when Stolz set a Junior World Record and two Junior U.S. Records in Kearns, Utah, fellow 18-year-old Myers set two Junior U.S. Records herself. More recently, the Minnesota native reached three podiums and won the Women’s 5000m at the U.S. Championships.
Joining Stolz and Myers at Inzell will be Piper Yde, Thalia Staehle, Marley Soldan and Libby Williams on the women’s side, and men’s skaters Jonathan Tobon, Auggie Herman, Dylan Woodbury and Carl Tatelli.
Looking ahead to the Junior World Championships, Stolz doesn’t expect to change his approach much.
“I don’t want my mindset to really shift at all because I still want to go out and have great times,” Stolz said. “I know that there’s like a lot less competition at the junior worlds. But I still want to go out there and have some really fast races if they have the ice good in Inzell.
“I don’t think it’s going to be too much different, other than maybe a little bit less pressure.”
Stolz comes into Inzell not just as one of the world’s top junior skaters, but one of the top skaters period. He currently ranks among the top five in the World Cup standings for the 500m, 1000m and 1500m.
In addition to setting the records, Myers counts qualifying for the World Cup team among her season highlights so far.
“So far, I’ve had a great year of skating,” Myers said. “I’ve shown a lot of progress in my results, and I have come a long way with new experiences at the World Cups compared to last season.
“I’ve worked really hard over the summer on improving my technique in my skating. And I found that stepping on the ice after not skating all summer, my work has really started to pay off.”
While she has learned from watching the best senior-level skaters in the world, Myers is also looking forward to the Junior World Championships.
“I had a really good experience last year at Junior Worlds,” said Myers, “and I’m really looking forward to competing internationally against my junior competition and building more friendships with the international skating community and even being a leader on the team and helping to inspire and teach my younger teammates how valuable this experience really is.”
Myers will skate all the individual events in Inzell with the goal of reaching the podium.
“Right now, I am a lot stronger with my distance skating, so the 1500 through 5K I’m a lot stronger, but the 5K isn’t an event at Junior Worlds,” she said. “But I’m continuing to really work hard at my sprinting and then seeing improvement, so hopefully, it will transfer, and I’ll be able to really execute those races well at Junior Worlds.”
Whether she’s skating in senior or junior events, Myers strives to maintain an even keel.
“I’ve found that when I get way too excited or nervous for a competition, I tend not to compete as well as when I go into the competition just more relaxed and focused on the same objectives that I work on in practice,” Myers said. “This year, I’ve really learned that the key is just to not overthink things and to just go out and do what I’ve been practicing so long to do.”
Myers, who began as a hockey player and did that sport competitively for 13 years, eventually had to choose between the two pursuits.
“I had to make the decision to fully commit my time to speed skating or hockey,” she said. “It was a lot of stress, and it was a really hard decision for me. I decided that speed skating was what I really wanted to do. It was just something that I had more control of.
“I found it really rewarding that every ounce of work I put in, I could see the results more clearly than hockey because with team sports, it’s hard to be in control of when you play and what goes on.”
Myers admitted that the transition to speed skating was difficult at first.
“It took me a couple years to really understand that to go fast, it wasn’t all about just being really strong and trying really hard,” she said. “There are other aspects to it, like technique. They’re almost more important than just brute strength.
“It took a lot of time to understand that, and I’m still learning a lot about the sport. Focusing on fixing my skating and doing it correctly, it’s taken me a long ways, and it’s brought me to where I am now this year with the results.”
Congratulations to all of the athletes who made the 2023 Long Track Junior World Championships Team: