High Schooler, World Traveler, Record Setter: Jordan Stolz Is Living His Speedskating Dream
by Nicole Haase
Jordan Stolz skates in the men's 1000-meters during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 18, 2022 in Beijing.
Jordan Stolz burst onto the scene a year ago by winning the 500 and 1,000-meter races at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Long Track Speedskating at the age of 17.
Though he placed lower than he’d have liked in Beijing, missing the top 10 in both events, the Wisconsin teenager gained valuable experience that he’s now turning into results. At 18, he’s spent this winter traveling the world, winning races and rewriting the record books — with one more big opportunity to add to his resume at this weekend’s world championships in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
Stolz’s life of homeschooling while traveling the world is far from what most teenagers experience. But, it’s also exactly what he expected. The native of Kewaskum, a town located just north of Milwaukee, understood when he decided to dedicate himself to becoming a world-class speedskater that it would mean forgoing what some consider teenage rites of passage. The tradeoff has been experiences few others get to have at any time in their life, much less before they are out of high school.
Not one to be content sitting still, Stolz can’t imagine a life without days filled with skating, training and studying.
“Ever since I started taking the sport seriously, it’s been like this,” he said. “Since I was 14. It’s different, but it’s not bad and I really enjoy it.
“It’s different, but I think I’d rather have the skating life than just sitting at home.”
While his past few years have been anything but ordinary, he hasn’t been skating in isolation. Stolz and junior national team teammates Auggie Herman and Jonathon Tobon have been skating together for about half their lives, training out of the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee. With their whole relationship built through the sport they’ve dedicated their lives to, the teens have always been able to separate their skating from their friendship. They’re the first to check on one another after a fall or congratulate one another after a win.
“On the ice you’re competitors, and off the ice you’re friends and you try not to carry either side into each other,” Stolz said.
On the world cup circuit, he has bonded with the rest of his national team teammates, and that camaraderie ensures the trips don’t feel like work.
“Going to the world cups with people I know makes a huge difference,” Stolz said. “It’s a bit like going on vacation. It’s like a community. We’re really close to each other.
“Most of the guys I’ve known for a long time. We’ve all learned the same life lessons together through skating. It has just been really fun. It was a good way to grow up.”
Jordan Stolz skates in the men's 500-meters during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 12, 2022 in Beijing.
Since Beijing, Stolz has been focused on training and came back with a vengeance.
He started the season in November by winning the men’s 1,500-meter event in track-record time at the world cup opener in Stavanger, Norway. At 18 years old, he became the youngest man to win an individual world cup speedskating race.
He ended the world cup season Feb. 17-19 in Poland with another win and track record in the 1,500, while also reaching the podium in the 500 and 1,000. That came a week after he won junior world titles in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 races, as well as in the men’s team sprint with Herman and Tobon. Stolz also took home bronze in the 5,000 and mass start.
Along the way this season, Stolz has also stacked up three U.S. titles, nine total world cup medals and a junior world record.
Skating in both junior and senior events this season, Stolz has been too focused on his skating and too busy with events to think about much of anything else.
Fighting off a cold he said he caught in Poland, Stolz said he was taking advantage of the off time before the world championships that run Thursday through Sunday in Heerenveen.
“The past three weeks have been pretty heavy,” he said. “It was three solid weeks of racing, eight races total per weekend. I’m getting as much rest as I can.”
With his showing throughout February, Stolz feels like he might be reaching his peak and in a good position to skate his best at the world championships. But his focus isn’t necessarily on podium finishes or lap times. A great race, he said, is knowing that he did the best he could do at that moment.
“I’m just hoping to have a great race, and that’s all I really look forward to,” Stolz said. “If that happens, I’ll be satisfied. You have to be happy with it, and if it was not good enough, you just have to train more and come back next season.
“You have to learn from experience and just try to keep calm and keep learning. The difference between first and fifth is so small. You have to just do the best you can do and be calm. That’s one of the biggest parts of this sport is remaining calm even when you’re going as hard as you can. If you get a little excited, it can go badly.”