Jordan Stolz, the 18-year-old from rural Wisconsin who has been hailed as America’s next speed skating star, continued his meteoric rise on Friday by winning the men’s 500m to become the youngest gold medalist in the history of the world single distance championships.
The budding American talent completed the all-out sprint for one and a quarter laps of the oval in a time of 37.10sec, winning by a yawning margin of 0.36sec over the defending world champion, Canada’s Laurent Dubreuil, at the famed Thialf ice arena in Heerenveen.
Japan’s Wataru Morishige, who went off alongside Stolz in the final pairing, placed third to match his bronze from last year’s Beijing Olympics.
“All week I’ve been feeling pretty good going into that race,” Stolz said afterward to Dutch national broadcaster NOS. “[I’ve] been feeling really snappy all week.”
Dubreuil, fresh off a gold medal in the men’s team sprint on Thursday, could only tip his hat to the American’s “otherworldly” performance.
“Of course I’m shooting for gold, but if Jordan skates 34.10 like that, there’s not much I can do about it,” Dubreuil said. “He’s unbelievable. It’s like trying to beat Michael Jordan or something, I assume. I feel privileged to go against a skater this good. He’s doing things that we would have deemed impossible.”
Since launching his breakout 2022/23 campaign by becoming the youngest man to win an individual World Cup race in November and setting a track record in doing so, Stolz further delivered on his enormous promise by dominating last month’s junior world championships, sweeping the 500m, 1000m and 1500m while adding bronze medals in the other two individual events: the 5000m and mass start. He also won gold in the men’s team sprint.
He’s now become only the third speed skater in history to win both junior and senior world titles in the same season, joining Eric Heiden (1977 and 1978) and Beth Heiden (1979).
The teenager’s work in the Netherlands is far from over. He’s a hot contender in the 1000m on Saturday and the 1500m on Sunday, having ended the World Cup season ranked third at each distance. By comparison, he was ranked just fifth in the 500m.
Stolz first took up skating on the family’s three-acre backyard pond in the small Wisconsin village of Kewaskum, about 45 minutes north of Milwaukee, after watching Apolo Anton Ohno’s short-track exploits at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. After initially training in short track, he moved toward the long track after a few years and began winning national championships when he was in fifth grade.
Last year, Stolz qualified for the Beijing Games as a 17-year-old, becoming the third-youngest American man to make an Olympic team for the United States in long track after Eric Heiden and Emery Lehman. He finished 13th in the 500m and 14th in the 1000m.
One year on, Stolz has taken another leap forward and figures to be one of the faces of the US Olympic team at the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Asked what Friday’s triumph would mean back home in a nation where speed skating is far less popular than in the Netherlands, Stolz took an optimistic tack.
“I hope I can bring back popularity,” he said. “Great things are coming, at least to me.”
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