Jordan Stolz arrives with three golds at speed skating worlds, leaving the Dutch in disbelief


The crescendo of 18-year-old American Jordan Stolz‘s historic weekend came not as he glided powerfully on the most famous ice in speed skating, but as he sat.

Stolz, already labeled “wonderkind” but “straaljager” (jet fighter) by Dutch reporters (the sport’s media of record), finished his last and longest race, Sunday’s 1500m, in the lead with one pair to go.

It wasn’t his most impressive time of his three days of racing at Thialf, the Madison Square Garden of speed skating in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

On Friday and Saturday, he won the 500m and 1000m, skating the second-fastest sea-level time in history in each race to become, twice over, the youngest gold medalist in world single distance championships history (since 1996). (The fastest times in speed skating are set at high altitude, in Calgary and Salt Lake City.)

Stolz wanted to finish the championships as the first man to win three individual gold medals in one edition.

To grasp the gravity of that feat, consider the last two times it happened at the Olympics: Johann Olav Koss, the Norwegian who won the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m, all in world record times, at the Viking Ship at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, and Eric Heiden, Stolz’s fellow Wisconsinite who swept all five golds in Lake Placid in 1980.

German women Anni Friesinger (2003) and Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann (1997) also won three events at a single worlds. Plus, skaters have won three or more distances at the world allround championships, which crown one champion combining results from sprint and distance races and date officially to 1893.

Winning three of the five traditional distances is so difficult because most skaters are separated into three categories, each encompassing two distances: sprints (500m and 1000m), middle distance (1000m and 1500m) and distance (3000m/5000m for women and 5000m/10,000m for men). Rarely does a sprinter win the 1500m. Rarely does a middle distance skater win the 500m or the 3000m/5000m. Rarely does a distance skater win the 1500m.

Stolz, a modest interview, was reflective on Saturday night when looking ahead to the closing 1500m after winning the two sprints.

“Does it still surprise you, how good you are?” a reporter from Dutch broadcaster NOS asked him in the infield.

“Yeah, I think it does, because I don’t expect to be skating that much faster than the best skaters in the world, but somehow I am,” Stolz said.

“You’ll win [the 1500m], I think. What do you think?” the reporter said.

“I think I have a good chance,” Stolz replied. “Between me and Kjeld, I think it’s a pretty similar chance. So I’m not going to pick one.”

After skating into the lead on Sunday, Stolz took a seat within feet of the inside lane to watch the last pair. It included Dutchman Kjeld Nuis, who won the 1500m at the last two Olympics, holds the world record and, following the retirement of Sven Kramer, is the pre-eminent man in the Netherlands’ national sport.

Nuis trailed Stolz’s time after the first lap, unsurprising given Stolz was crowned the world’s best sprinter over the previous two days.

But Thialf grew louder. Nuis moved five hundredths ahead after two laps and 23 hundredths ahead with one lap left, about the time that an American coach (appeared to be Stolz’s personal coach Bob Corby) crouched down, put his arm around Stolz, patted his shoulder and said a few words into his pupil’s right ear.

A grimacing Nuis skated right past the seated Stolz on the back straightaway. He came around the final curve, dropped a hand to his knee and stabbed his right skate out across the finish line to stop the clock.

Thialf hushed. Nuis’ final time was 23 hundredths slower than Stolz. The dethroned Dutchman slammed a fist against his leg and kicked a track marker in frustration.

Stolz hugged American coaches after winning the 1500m, the middle distance that is labeled the “King’s Race” as it can be a gathering place for the world’s best sprinters and world’s best distance skaters.

“I guess I wrote some history,” Stolz said later, according to the International Skating Union. “I was worried [I might not win]. But yeah, I just had confidence in the last lap and I just had a little bit on him.”

Through the weekend, comparisons between Stolz and Heiden continued. Stolz, who also swept the 500m, 1000m and 1500m at last month’s world junior championships, joined Heiden and Heiden’s younger sister, Beth, as the only skaters to win junior and senior world titles in the same year.

Heiden was also 18 when he won the first of his three titles in the world allround championships.

Last year, Stolz became the third-youngest man to make a U.S. Olympic speed skating team, doing so at age 17, just like Heiden did in 1976.

“I can remember when LeBron James walked onto the court and I saw him in his rookie year,” Heiden said before the world championships, according to The New York Times. “There was just sort of this aura around him that I see around Jordan.”

Stolz finished 13th and 14th in his first Olympics. Heiden was seventh and 19th at his first Olympics as a 17-year-old, too. Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen also made their first Olympic teams as teens and left without a medal.

Then Stolz opened this season in November by becoming the youngest man to win a World Cup race. He became the talk of the sport, though he traded wins with missing the podium altogether on the World Cup.

Could he deliver on the biggest stage at the world championships at Thialf? Or was he still growing through inconsistency?

Stolz, who honed his skating on the frozen pond behind the family house, answered emphatically the last three days. It was a shot in the arm for U.S. men’s speed skating, which last won an individual Olympic medal in 2010, though has had world champions since then.

Shani Davis, the 2006 and 2010 Olympic 1000m champion who has coached Stolz, texted him, “Great job,” according to NOS.

“It’s like trying to beat Michael Jordan or something, I assume,” Laurent Dubreuil, the Canadian who was runner-up to Stolz in the 500m, said, according to the International Skating Union. “He’s doing things that we would have deemed impossible.”

Stolz is also effecting the Dutch, who have three years to figure out how to be faster than the straaljager at the next Winter Games.

“If [Thomas] Krol and me would have finished one-two again, it would be like business as usual and easy-going into the summer,” said Nuis, mentioning a teammate who took silver at the Olympics. “But now there’s someone who gives us a real challenge.”

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Kaori Sakamoto wins figure skating worlds; top American places fourth


Kaori Sakamoto overcame a late error in her free skate to become the first Japanese figure skater to win back-to-back world titles and the oldest women’s world champion since 2014.

Sakamoto, 22, totaled 224.61 points on home ice in Saitama to prevail by 3.67 over Lee Hae-In of South Korea in the closest women’s finish at worlds since 2011.

Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx took bronze, edging 16-year-old American Isabeau Levito for a medal by 2.77 points.

Sakamoto is the oldest women’s singles world champion since Mao Asada (2014), who is now the only Japanese skater with more world titles than Sakamoto.

She appeared en route to an easier victory until singling a planned triple flip late in her free skate, which put the gold in doubt. She can be thankful for pulling off the second jump of that planned combination — a triple toe loop — and her 5.62-point lead from Wednesday’s short program.

“I feel so pathetic and thought, what was all that hard work I put into my training?” Sakamoto said of her mistake, according to the International Skating Union (ISU). “But I was able to refocus and do my best till the end.

“Because I have this feeling of regret at the biggest event of the season, I want to make sure I don’t have this feeling next season. So I want to practice even harder, and I want to make sure to do clean, perfect performances at every competition.”

Lee, who had the top free skate, became the second South Korean to win a world medal in any discipline after six-time medalist Yuna Kim.

Hendrickx followed her silver from last year, when she became the first Belgian women’s singles skater to win a world medal.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, last year’s world junior champion, had a chance to become the youngest senior world medalist since 2014.

After a solid short program, she fell on her opening triple Lutz in the free skate and left points on the table by performing two jump combinations rather than three. The Lutz was planned to be the first half of a combination with a triple loop.

“I am severely disappointed because I’ve been nailing my Lutz-loop for a really long time, and this is the first time I’ve messed it up in a while, and of course it had to be when it actually counted,” Levito said, according to the ISU. “But I’m pretty happy with myself for just trying to move past it and focusing on making the most out of the rest of the program.”

Levito entered worlds ranked fourth in the field by best score this season. She matched the best finish for a U.S. woman in her senior global championships debut (Olympics and worlds) since Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan took silver and bronze at the 1991 Worlds. Sasha Cohen, to whom Levito is often compared, also placed fourth in her Olympic and world debuts in 2002.

“I feel very proud for myself and grateful for my coaching team for helping me get this far so far in my skating career, and I’m just very proud to be where I am,” Levito said on USA Network.

American Amber Glenn was 12th in her world debut. Two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell was 15th. They had been 10th and eighth, respectively, in the short program.

The U.S. qualified two women’s spots for next year’s worlds rather than the maximum three because the top two Americans’ results added up to more than 13 (Levito’s fourth plus Glenn’s 12th equaled 16). The U.S. was in position to qualify three spots after the short program.

Glenn said after the short program that she had a very difficult two weeks before worlds, including “out-of-nowhere accidents and coincidences that could have prevented me from being here,” and boot problems that affected her triple Axel. She attempted a triple Axel in the free skate, spinning out of an under-rotated, two-footed landing.

Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022, had several jumping errors in the free skate.

“This season has been like one thing after another,” said the 25-year-old Tennell, who plans to compete through the 2026 Winter Games. “I’m really excited to get back and work on some stuff for the new season.”

Earlier, Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates topped the rhythm dance, starting their bid for a first world title in their 12th season together and after three prior world silver or bronze medals.

“We skated as best we possibly could today,” Bates said, according to the ISU, after they tallied the world’s top score this season.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the lone U.S. ice dancers to win a world title, doing so in 2011 and 2013.

Worlds continue Friday night (U.S. time) with the free dance, followed Saturday morning with the men’s free skate, live on Peacock and USA Network.

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships results


2023 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, top 10 and notable results …

Gold: Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 224.61
Silver: Lee Hae-In (KOR) — 220.94
Bronze: Loena Hendrickx (BEL) — 210.42
4. Isabeau Levito (USA) — 207.65
5. Mai Mihara (JPN) — 205.70
6. Kim Chae-Yeon (KOR) — 203.51
7. Nicole Schott (GER) — 197.76
8. Kimmy Repond (SUI) — 194.09
9. Niina Petrokina (EST) — 193.49
10. Rinka Watanabe (JPN) — 192.81
12. Amber Glenn (USA) — 188.33
15. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 184.14

Men (Short Program)
1. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 104.63
2. Ilia Malinin (USA) — 100.38
3. Cha Jun-Hwan (KOR) — 99.64
4. Keegan Messing (CAN) — 98.75
5. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 95.56
6. Jason Brown (USA) — 94.17
7. Kazuki Tomono (JPN) — 92.68
8. Daniel Grassl (ITA) — 86.50
9. Lukas Britschgi (SUI) — 86.18
10. Vladimir Litvintsev (AZE) — 82.71
17. Sota Yamamoto (JPN) — 75.48
22. Andrew Torgashev (USA) — 71.41


Gold: Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) — 222.16
Silver: Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 217.48
Bronze: Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii (ITA) — 208.08
4. Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps (CAN) — 199.97
5. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe (USA) — 194.73
6. Lia Pereira/Trennt Michaud (CAN) — 193.00
7. Maria Pavlova/Alexei Sviatchenko (HUN) — 190.67
8. Anastasia Golubova/Hektor Giotopoulos Moore (AUS) — 189.47
9. Annika Hocke/Robert Kunkel (GER) — 184.60
10. Alisa Efimova/Ruben Blommaert (GER) — 184.46
12. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea (USA) — 175.59

Ice Dance (Rhythm Dance)
1. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 91.94
2. Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri (ITA) — 88.21
3. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) — 87.34
4. Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson (GBR) — 86.56
5. Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Soerensen (CAN) — 85.59
6. Caroline Green/Michael Parsons (USA) — 78.74
7. Allison Reed/Saulius Ambrulevicius (LTU) — 78.70
8. Juulia Turkkila/Matthias Versluis (FIN) — 76.97
9. Natalie Taschlerova/Filip Taschler (CZE) — 76.56
10. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) — 75.24
11. Kana Muramoto/Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) — 72.92

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