Wisconsin's Jordan Stolz, speedskating star at 20

From rural Washington County to the top of the world, it’s the path of a speed skater who maintains his local ties, especially in what passes for his downtime.

Jordan Stolz is a big star, but not just in his own backyard. Those in the world's speedskating community know who Stolz is: the 20-year-old American who dominates on the ice. 

He is the latest great to hail from the Pettit National Ice Center.

"Right now, if I walk down the street in the Netherlands, people would recognize me and ask for autographs, so I don't get that here," Stolz said. "It's more so pretty quiet, walk into a Walmart and nobody knows who you are."

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Before the Pettit Center for Stolz, there was the pond. The one right next to his parents' house outside Kewaskum. It’s the one he took to after watching another famous speedskater, Apollo Ohno in the 2010 Olympics. The retrospection is coupled with awe.

Jordan Stolz

"Now I'm, I guess, the best in the world. That's a big jump," he said. "Fourteen years of skating, it's been a long time, but I still remember watching Apollo on TV. That got me started."

Stolz is able to maintain a steely focus, even over long distances. 

"This year, I got two world records, so that's huge motivation," Stolz said. "Also, the Olympic medals. Usually we are working for that, four years before it, so that's one of the biggest things you can get, especially if you are in the U.S., so that's very motivating."

Jordan Stolz

His temperament is an asset in his sport. His background and connection to his roots grounds him.

"What about the idea that some other kid is going to be watching you?" he asked. "You could be the one who triggers it for them. How would that feel?  I'd really like that actually [...] I think if there's some kid watching it right now, then I don't have to worry about him if he gets really fast because by the time he gets good, I'll be retired." 

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Retirement is somewhere way down the road for the world's current biggest speedskating star.

He is also the youngest male to win the World Allround Speed Skating Championships in 46 years and will be a Gold Medal favorite at the next Winter Olympics, which will be in Italy in 2026. That's quite a climb from the little pond next to his parents' house.