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Jordan Stolz wins the Oscar Mathisen Trophy 2023

by OSK's Oscar Committee

Stolz, who is 18 years old, is the 50th winner in the 65-year-long history of the Oscar Trophy. He is the second youngest skater to win the award. His fellow American Eric Heiden was one month younger and had won the World Championships Allround in Heerenveen when he in 1977 received the Oscar Trophy for the first time. Skating legend Oscar Mathisen himself was 19 years old when he won his first World Championship title in 1908.

When Jordan Stolz prepared for the start of the 500 m race on Friday, March 3, six skaters had achieved better personal best times. In the final World Cup event on this distance he had lost to his pair mate, Yuma Murakami of Japan. In the duel for World Championship medals, Murakami gave his American rival a shock treatment clocking the by far fastest first hundred metres split. Stolz, however, rose to the occasion and ran an overwhelming lap, with arguably the most impressing final inner corner ever seen. As they entered the home stretch, Murakami got the shock treatment and had to settle with a fourth place on the 500 m.

When Murakami and Stolz started in the twelfth and final pair, Canadian skater Laurent Dubreuil was on top of the leading board with a time of 34,46 seconds. Ahead of the World Championships, the Canadian had won two out of the six World Cup 500 m races and placed second on two occasions. Stolz had no wins on the distance, while Yuma Murakami also had won two of the World Cup races. The Japanese skater was considered Dubreuil’s top contender. Against all predictions, however, Jordan Stolz snatched the World Championship gold medal – as much as 36 hundredths of a second ahead of Dubreuil.

 

He had to defeated two Olympic Champions.

In his next World Championship events, 1,000 m and 1,500 m, Jordan Stolz was up against the Olympic champions from the 2022 Beijing Games. Dutchman Thomas Krol was reigning Olympic champion on the 1,000 m, while his fellow countryman Kjeld Nuis held the Olympic throne on the 1,500 m. Nuis also held the world record on this distance, an achievement that brought him the Oscar Trophy in 2019.

In the Dutch home crowd in Thialf ice stadium in Heerenveen, expectations were high that Krol, Nuis or a fellow Dutchman would capture the gold medals in the 1,000 m and the 1,500 m – the “king” distance of speed skating, where the sprinters and the stayers of the sport meet.

In the 1,000 m, both Krol and Nuis had by far better personal best times than Jordan Stolz. The American was drawn in the twelfth and last pair with another Dutchman going for gold, Hein Otterspeer – the season’s overall World Cup winner in the distance. Before they started, Thomas Krol was in the lead with a time of 1.07,78. The 1,000 m race ended with a victory margin for Stolz that was even wider than that of the previous day’s 500 m. The American ran faster than Krol in all phases of the race and crossed the finish line in 1.07,11. Krol was second, Nuis fourth, and Stolz’ pair mate, Otterspeer, sixth on the distance.

On the day of the 1,500 m race, Sunday, March 5, the thirst for victory was even bigger among Dutch skaters and fans. Nine skaters in the field of competitors had faster personal

best times than Stolz. Olympic champion Kjeld Nuis held both the track record and the world record on the distance. In the season’s six World Cup events, Nuis and Stolz had snatched two 1,500 m win each.

In the eleventh and penultimate pair of the distance, Jordan Stolz, beat his Japanese pair mate, Kazuya Yamada, with two-and-a-half seconds. With a time of 1.43,59 he captured the lead from Thomas Krol with a margin of as much as 71 hundredths of a second.

In the last pair the favourite Kjeld Nuis skated with Connor Howe of Canada, who had won the distance during the World Cup event at Heerenveen before Christmas. The Dutchman kept full control of his pair mate and for a long time he seemed also to control his race towards distance victory. After a 300 m split just behind Stolz’ mark, Nuis took a small lead at the 700 m split. He widened the gap to 22 hundredths of a second as the bell rang for the last lap. The finishing lap, however, became too demanding for Nuis. He skated the lap almost half a second slower than Stolz, and had to settle for the silver medal with a time of 1.43,82.

 

First World Cup victory in Stavanger

The American teenager took his first World Cup victory at the first World Cup event of the season, at Stavanger, Norway, in mid-November 2022. He won the 1,000 m as well as he 1,500 m. In the next two World Cup events, at Heerenveen and Calgary, Canada, Stolz did not reach the podium in any individual race. In the following World Cup competition, also in Calgary, in mid-December, he was back on the podium. Jordan won the 1,000 m race with Thomas Krol second, and he placed second in the 1,500 m behind Kjeld Nuis.

At the first of the season’s last two World Cup events, both in Tomaszow Mazowiecki in Poland, Stolz did not take part since he participated in the World Junior Championships. In the final World Cup event, in mid-February, he won the 1,500 m race ahead of Nuis. In the 500 m and 1,000 m races, Stolz placed second, beaten by Yuma Murakami of Japan and Wesley Dijs of the Netherlands, respectively.

At the World Junior Championships in Inzell, Germany, held three weeks ahead of the World Championships in Heerenveen, Jordan Stolz had won the gold medals on his three favourite distances. In addition to this, he gained the bronze medal on the 5,000 m that was won by Sigurd Henriksen of Norway. Stolz won the gold medal in the overall points classification by and overwhelming margin. He also captured a bronze medal in the mass start event. In the team events, he was on the winning team in the team sprint and he was on the fourth-placed team in the team pursuit race.

 

Triggered by Apolo Ohno or Shani Davis

Stolz was born on May 21, 2004, in West Bend, Wisconsin. He was only five years old when he watched the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver on television. A story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in august 2021 describes how Jordan was motivated to try skating after being excited from seeing the speed skaters travelling fast on the ice. Stolz's father, Dirk, asked his children if they wanted to try ice skating. Soon, Jordan and his elder sister, Hannah, were in full activity on the skating field that their father had prepared in the backyard pond of the family house of small town Kewaskum. Later, Dirk installed outdoor lighting at the pond so that the children could skate at all hours.

Jordan credited the successes of short-track skater Apolo Anton Ohno and long-track skater Shani Davis at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver as inspiration to initially take up skating.

After having started with short track training, he moved toward the long track and began winning national championships when he was in fifth grade.

He joined the Badger Speed Skating Club, and then the West Allis Speed Skating Club, which became the Wisconsin Club at the Pettit National Ice Center, with its two ice rinks and a 400 m speed skating rack.

As the center was a 90-minute round trip commute from his home in Kewaskum, speed skating became a family sport and commitment. In Milwaukee, Jordan was surrounded by highly qualified coaches. Among these coaches were Shani Davis. For some years now, veteran skater and coach Bob Corby has been Jordan Stolz’ personal coach in a group of skaters outside the national elite group of the US speed skating association.

 

International debut at the Youth Olympics

Still at the age of 15, Stolz made his international junior debut at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland, gaining a fifth place in the 500 m race and a 21st place in the 1,500 m race. One month later, he represented the US at the World Junior Championships in Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland, placing 28th in the 500 m and 1,000 m races.

Stolz made his international senior debut in December 2021 at the World Cup competitions in Salt Lake City, winning a “B division” 500 m race, and placing second in the “B division” 1,000 m race.

During the Olympic Trials at his home arena, Pettit National Ice Center, he set track records in the 500 m and 1,000 m events - previously held by Shani Davis since 2005. During the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, he finished 13th in the 500 m and 14th in the 1,000 m. At the age of 17, he was the third-youngest American male to compete in the Olympics in long track speed skating.

 

Tenth Oscar Award to the U.S.

Jordan Stolz is the sixth winner representing the United States in the 65-year-long history of the Oscar Mathisen Award. In total, the trophy has been awarded American skaters ten times, as Eric Heiden won it four times in a row 1977-1980, and Shani Davis twice, in 2005 and 2009. Bonnie Blair of the US was the first female skater to win the Oscar Trophy, in 1992, while Chad Hedrick won in 2004 and Brittany Bowe in 2015.

Jordan Stolz will be awarded a miniature of the statue of Oscar Mathisen (1888-1954), created by the Norwegian sculptor Arne Durban. The statue itself stands outside Frogner Stadion in Oslo, the venue of many of Oscar Mathisen’s most memorable victories.

 

The members of the Oscar Mathisen Award Committee for 2022/23 are Laila Andresen, Tron Espeli, Hasse Farstad, Arild Gjerde and Ådne Søndrål.

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