Jordan Stolz, an 18-year-old speed skater from Wisconsin, became the youngest gold medalist in world single distances championships history on Friday.
Stolz, a phenom who honed his skating on the pond behind the family house, won the 500m in 34.10 seconds at the Thialf, the sport’s hallowed venue in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
He won by a whopping 36 hundredths of a second over Canadian Laurent Dubreuil, the previous world champion. It’s the largest margin in men’s 500m history at worlds if you divide margins in half from championships when the 500m was two races.
Stolz called it the perfect race.
“Been feeling really snappy all week,” he told Dutch broadcaster NOS, while adding that the fast time was “really surprising.” “At the finish line I crossed going 61 kilometers [38 miles] per hour.”
Dubreuil called Stolz “otherworldly.”
“It’s like trying to beat Michael Jordan or something, I assume,” he said, according to the International Skating Union. “He’s doing things that we would have deemed impossible.”
Gao Tingyu of China, last year’s Olympic champion, took this season off but is expected to return ahead of the 2026 Winter Games, according to Xinhua News Agency in September.
Stolz’s time was three hundredths shy of the fastest time in history at or around sea level (also set at the Thialf) and two hundredths off his American record, which was set at altitude in Calgary in December. Most records in speed skating are set in thin air at higher elevations — Calgary or Salt Lake City.
Stolz is a medal contender in the 1000m on Saturday and the 1500m on Sunday, having won two World Cup races at each distance this season. Peacock airs live coverage of worlds.
The world single distances championships have been held since 1996.
Stolz broke the record of youngest gold medalist that was held by Dutchwoman Femke Kok, who took team sprint gold in 2020 at age 19, according to Speedskatingstats.com. Before Stolz, the youngest world champion in an individual event was Czech Martina Sáblíková, who won the first of her record 16 distance titles at age 19 in 2007.
Stolz is also younger than any male Olympic gold medalist in the sport.
Eric Heiden, a fellow Wisconsin native, was the only male skater younger than Stolz’s current age to win the other global championships events — the world allround and world sprint, both in 1977 at age 18, according to Speedskatingstats.com.
“I hope I can bring back popularity,” in speed skating in the U.S., Stolz said.
Already this season, Stolz swept the 500m, 1000m and 1500m at the world junior championships, plus earned bronze medals in the other two individual events (5000m and mass start). He also became the youngest man to win a World Cup race.
Last year, Stolz became the third-youngest U.S. Olympic male speed skater in history and finished 13th and 14th in his Olympic debut races.
Also Friday, the U.S. women’s team pursuit squad of Brittany Bowe, Mia Kilburg and Giorgia Birkeland were upgraded from fourth place to bronze minutes after the event. That’s because the original gold medalist Dutch team was disqualified, reportedly because one of its skaters’ ankles was not covered.
Kok won the won the women’s 500m. Erin Jackson, the Olympic champion, was the top American in fifth.
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @nbcolympictalk
Youngest. World. Champion.
Jordan Stolz is the youngest skater (m/w) ever to be victorious at the World Single Distance Champion. In Sprint and Allround championships however, there have been younger winners.@ShaniDavis will be proud.#speedskating #schaatsen pic.twitter.com/NJWVNYY8jh
— Update_Skate (@update_skate) March 3, 2023