Wisconsin speedskating star ‘destined for great things,’ coach says amid award nomination

Jordan Stolz, 19, is drawing comparisons to legendary Wisconsin skater and Olympian Eric Heiden

A speedskater holds an American flag in front of a crowd in a Dutch arena following a gold-medal win
Jordan Stolz, of Wisconsin, celebrates winning his third gold medal on the 1500m Men event of the Speedskating Single Distance World Championships at Thialf ice arena Heerenveen, Netherlands, Sunday, March 5, 2023. Peter Dejong/AP Photo

A speedskating phenom from Wisconsin is a semifinalist for an award given to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate or Olympic athlete.

Jordan Stolz is one of 25 athletes vying for the Amateur Athletic Union James E. Sullivan Award, which will be announced Sept. 19 in New York.

This year, the 19-year-old Kewaskum native became the first man to win the gold medal in three individual races at the world single-distance speedskating championships. A New York Times report on the Netherlands competition referred to Stolz as “the future of speedskating.”

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Stolz recently appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Morning Show” and responded to comparisons with Madison speedskater Eric Heiden, who won the Amateur Athletic Union award in 1980 after securing five individual gold medals at the 1980 Olympics.

“Having that name be mixed in with mine is a really cool thing (that is) happening,” Stolz said. “Even if I’m not quite as good as Eric Heiden, it’s still cool to be named up with the top skaters in the world. So, I really appreciate it.”

A speedskater smiles during a competition in the Netherlands
United States’ Jordan Stolz, youngest single distance World Champion ever, competes to take the gold medal on the 1,000m Men event of the World Championships at Thialf ice arena Heerenveen, Netherlands, Saturday, March 4, 2023. Peter Dejong/AP Photo

Bob Corby is a former U.S. Olympic speedskating coach who came out of retirement to work with Stolz. Corby said on “The Morning Show” that Heiden is widely considered the greatest skater to ever live.

Stolz is reaching levels that Heiden did during his younger years, Corby said.

“It is really impressive to even be considered in the same breath as Eric Heiden,” Corby said.

In his winter Olympics debut last year, Stolz finished 13th in the men’s 500-meter event and 14th in the 1,000-meter contest. He called the Beijing games a “huge learning experience.”

When Stolz called Corby and asked to train under him, Corby said he had to say yes. Corby had been winding down his physical therapy work in the Milwaukee area, so he had the time.

Early on, Corby liked what he saw from the teenager.

“Watching him skate everyday was pretty unbelievable. He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Corby said. “When we added in the conditioning … that’s when I knew he was really destined for great things.”

Past winners of the Amateur Athletic Union award include former University of Wisconsin-Madison volleyball player Lauren Carlini as well as the acclaimed Olympians Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Carl Lewis.

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