Kewaskum’s Jordan Stolz has made history, becoming the youngest male ever to win an individual World Cup speed skating race.
The 18-year-old won the 1,500-meter race on Friday in Stavanger, Norway, with a time of 1 minute, 44.891 seconds to establish a track record. Stolz easily outdistanced runner-up Connor Howe of Canada, with a 1.76-second margin separating the skaters.
Stolz, who has had a meteoric rise in the sport, gave a quick fist pump and cracked a faint smile as he crossed the finish line with the crowd loudly cheering his accomplishment.
Germany’s Peter Adeberg had been the youngest man to win a World Cup race, capturing a 1,500-meter event in 1986 at the age of 18 years and 196 days, or 22 days older than Stolz, according to speedskatingstats.com.
Lee Sang-Hwa of South Korea is the youngest speedskater ever to win a World Cup event. She won a 100-meter World Cup race at the age of 17 years and eight days in 2006. Sang-Hwa went on to become a two-time Olympic gold-medal winner in the 500 meters.
Stolz told Dutch broadcaster NOS that he was “a little bit” flabbergasted by his performance and margin of victory.
“I didn’t expect it to be almost two seconds. That’s a lot,” the always understated Stolz said. “It was crazy. I know the ice wasn’t anything special, but it was still good. I had no expectations going into the race.”
Stolz said he is focusing on the World Championships in March and was then asked what events he’d be competing in.
“All of them,” he said, although he later indicated that he might not take part in the 10,000 meters.
Stolz said he often thinks of Madison native Eric Heiden and his legendary performance at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York, where he skated his way into history by sweeping gold medals in all five distances – 500 meters, 1,000 meters, 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters.
“What he did was pretty much near impossible,” Stolz said. Last season, Stolz broke the junior world records in the 500 meters and 1,000 meters and became the third-youngest male speed skater ever to make the U.S. Olympic team.
Stolz set track records in 500 meters and 1,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Long Track Trials held over five days at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee in January.
Stolz finished 13th in the 500 meters and 14th in the 1,000m at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.