Jordan Stolz aced his biggest test yet.
But the American teenager’s mission on ice is just getting started.
He sealed his dream spot at Winter Games by winning the men's 1000m at the U.S. Olympic long track trials with a record-breaking time of 1:07.62, bettering the time set by his former coach and mentor, double Olympic champion Shani Davis, in 2006 and 2010.
“I know the ice is a lot faster than when he was skating, but it’s still nice to have my name on the track record board,” he told NBC sports after blowing away the field in the first of his two events.
A day later he was also the headline performer in the shortest long-track race race at the trials, the 500m, qualifying first to live up to the billing of being the top ranked skater in the world at the distance this season.
There's little double he's now a podium contender in his debut Olympics.
Stolz has the champions talking
Wondering how good Stolz is? Just ask his more experienced teammates, who have watched him morph from “this scrawny little kid” who wasn’t “very fast” to one of the quickest skaters in Team USA.
Joey Mantia, a three-time world champion, who will lead an American team of skaters hoping for its best medal haul since Turin 2006, watched in awe as Stolz sealed his Olympic ticket in dominant style at the trials.
“He has just got a really good feel for his skates,” Mantia said in an interview with NBC.
“He doesn’t think too much, which is great…he’s just a natural.
“Being a young kid, stepping up and crushing through junior world records and track records… it’s definitely raising everybody’s game. I watch him in practice and I’m like, ‘I gotta go faster. I gotta step it up.'”
Compatriot Brittany Bowe also had her eyes on the teenager as he unleashed his potent burst on ice.
“He is incredible. I don’t even know if he knows how good he is — and he should, because he’s set a new junior world record every time he’s stepped on the ice.”
Davis, the former U.S. 1000m record holder, was dumbfounded by the teenager's speed.
"You know I tried a whole bunch of times to break that track record. And now, little Jordan. Well, he's not little anymore. But, he breaks, like not even breaks it. He destroys it. So I'm really happy." - Shani Davis on Jordan Stolz.
"If anyone wants to break it? I rather it be him than anyone else. And I'm just really proud that, I had something do to with it along the way," added former coach Davis.
The native of Wisconsin has been extraordinary since scaling up to the senior ranks.
His dad, a police officer from Germany, would put lights around their frozen home pond so that he and his sister could skate.
By the time he was nine, his parents opted for home-schooling to enable their son to master the sport.
Qualifying for Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), whetted his appetite for the Olympics.
“I always planned on it,” he said to US speedskating of his speedy rise, that took off in March 2021 when he won the U.S. 500m title and set a national junior record of 34.99.
“Probably two years ago, I could see it was realistic enough, especially if my progress keeps improving, and it did.”
Stolz's first taste at the global podium was in December 2021 at his second World Cup event in Calgary, where he clinched a silver medal in the 1000 and set a world junior record in the 500m.
“I think it was just — I was always good, and I had good technique.
"I started building up my strength over the summer, and then it just went straight into the ice with the technique.”
Moulded by greats
As Stolz embarks on his speedy journey to stardom, he remains unassuming, as he shuffles between his studies, and shedding sweat during home workouts on his exercise bike and treadmill.
He knows what it takes to chase the shadows of the greats.
“I do weightlifting and training at the Pettit Center, along with skating. It’s about 35 hours a week working out,” he told Washington County Insider.
“It’s about putting your power into your movement, even though you’re sprinting on ice.” Jordan Stolz on his technique.
His confident tone and laser-like focus also come from surrounding himself with some of the greats in his sport.
His start was in short track before moving to the longer event.
“I was fast in the short track, but I felt I could be faster in long track,” he said of the period he worked with Shani Davis’ coach Bobby Fenn, before his death in 2017.
Stolz then briefly worked with the four-time Olympic medallist Davis before Bob Corby came out of retirement to coach him.
Corby also trained Olympic champions, Bonnie Blair Cruikshank and Dan Jansen, and believes Stolz could be just as good.
"At their ages? When they're all 17, he is doing stuff that's unbelievable. The thing is, is that once they turned 18, 19? They started doing stuff that's unbelievable too. So we're still holding his feet to the fire.
"But a 17-year-old making the Olympic team? It doesn't get any better than that,” Corby told TMJ4 after Stolz punched his Olympic ticket.
"I am not counting this kid out of anything.
"I don't wanna put any pressure on him. But he just performs and overperforms and surprises you. And so, no. I'm telling him, 'By the way, when you come home from China? I wanna see some hardware."
The speed skating competitions at the Beijing Winter Games will begin Saturday, February 5, 2022, and end on Saturday, February 19, 2022.