American Jordan Stolz becomes youngest world champion in speed skating history


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 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

“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!

Football takes significant step in Olympic push

Flag Football
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Football took another step toward possible Olympic inclusion with the IOC executive board proposing that the sport’s international federation — the IFAF — be granted full IOC recognition at a meeting in October.

IOC recognition does not equate to eventual Olympic inclusion, but it is a necessary early marker if a sport is to join the Olympics down the line. The IOC gave the IFAF provisional recognition in 2013.

Specific measures are required for IOC recognition, including having an anti-doping policy compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency and having 50 affiliated national federations from at least three continents. The IFAF has 74 national federations over five continents with almost 4.8 million registered athletes, according to the IOC.

The NFL has helped lead the push for flag football to be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Flag football had medal events for men and women at last year’s World Games, a multi-sport competition including Olympic and non-Olympic sports, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Football is one of nine sports that have been reported to be in the running to be proposed by LA 2028 to the IOC to be added for the 2028 Games only. LA 2028 has not announced which, if any sports, it plans to propose.

Under rules instituted before the Tokyo Games, Olympic hosts have successfully proposed to the IOC adding sports solely for their edition of the Games.

For Tokyo, baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were added. For Paris, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved again, and breaking will make its Olympic debut. Those sports were added four years out from the Games.

For 2028, the other sports reportedly in the running for proposal are baseball and softball, breaking, cricket, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, motorsports and squash.

All of the other eight sports reportedly in the running for 2028 proposal already have a federation with full IOC recognition (if one counts the international motorcycle racing federation for motorsports).

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Helen Maroulis stars in wrestling documentary, with help from Chris Pratt

Helen Maroulis, Chris Pratt

One of the remarkable recent Olympic comeback stories is the subject of a film that will be shown nationwide in theaters for one day only on Thursday.

“Helen | Believe” is a documentary about Helen Maroulis, the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion. It is produced by Religion of Sports, the venture founded by Gotham Chopra, Michael Strahan and Tom Brady. Showing details are here.

After taking gold at the 2016 Rio Games, Maroulis briefly retired in 2019 during a two-year stretch in which she dealt with concussions and post-traumatic stress disorder. The film focuses on that period and her successful bid to return and qualify for the Tokyo Games, where she took bronze.

In a poignant moment in the film, Maroulis described her “rock bottom” — being hospitalized for suicidal ideations.

In an interview, Maroulis said she was first approached about the project in 2018, the same year she had her first life-changing concussion that January. A wrestling partner’s mother was connected to director Dylan Mulick.

Maroulis agreed to the film in part to help spread mental health awareness in sports. Later, she cried while watching the 2020 HBO film, “The Weight of Gold,” on the mental health challenges that other Olympians faced, because it resonated with her so much.

“When you’re going through something, it sometimes gives you an anchor of hope to know that someone’s been through it before, and they’ve overcome it,” she said.

Maroulis’ comeback story hit a crossroads at the Olympic trials in April 2021, where the winner of a best-of-three finals series in each weight class made Team USA.

Maroulis won the opening match against Jenna Burkert, but then lost the second match. Statistically, a wrestler who loses the second match in a best-of-three series usually loses the third. But Maroulis pinned Burkert just 22 seconds into the rubber match to clinch the Olympic spot.

Shen then revealed that she tore an MCL two weeks earlier.

“They told me I would have to be in a brace for six weeks,” she said then. “I said, ‘I don’t have that. I have two and a half.’”

Maroulis said she later asked the director what would have happened if she didn’t make the team for Tokyo. She was told the film still have been done.

“He had mentioned this isn’t about a sports story or sports comeback story,” Maroulis said. “This is about a human story. And we’re using wrestling as the vehicle to tell this story of overcoming and healing and rediscovering oneself.”

Maroulis said she was told that, during filming, the project was pitched to the production company of actor Chris Pratt, who wrestled in high school in Washington. Pratt signed on as a producer.

“Wrestling has made an impact on his life, and so he wants to support these kinds of stories,” said Maroulis, who appeared at last month’s Santa Barbara Film Festival with Pratt.

Pratt said he knew about Maroulis before learning about the film, which he said “needed a little help to get it over the finish line,” according to a public relations company promoting the film.

The film also highlights the rest of the six-woman U.S. Olympic wrestling team in Tokyo. Four of the six won a medal, including Tamyra Mensah-Stock‘s gold.

“I was excited to be part of, not just (Maroulis’) incredible story, but also helping to further advance wrestling and, in particular, female wrestling,” Pratt said, according to responses provided by the PR company from submitted questions. “To me, the most compelling part of Helen’s story is the example of what life looks like after a person wins a gold medal. The inevitable comedown, the trauma around her injuries, the PTSD, the drive to continue that is what makes her who she is.”

Maroulis, who now trains in Arizona, hopes to qualify for this year’s world championships and next year’s Olympics.

“I try to treat every Games as my last,” she said. “Now I’m leaning toward being done [after 2024], but never say never.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!