It takes confidence and razor-sharp focus to race around a frozen lake at speeds of 50km per hour. Fortunately, Jordan Stolz (USA) has both.
The US 2019 Long Track Junior Development Skater of the Year, 15-year-old Stolz divides his time between chaos and calm. For speed he rips around the ice, rides motocross and cycles; bumps and bruises are an occupational hazard. For serenity he fishes.
“Fishing is relaxing,” he said. “I don’t really think about anything. If you’re thinking about what’s going to happen all the time in races, it’s going to go bad.”
The speed skating competition at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games takes place from 12-16 January at the St. Moritz Speed Skating Oval, a 400m track sculpted into the picturesque Lake St. Moritz.
There are 500m, 1500m and mass start events for men and women, and a mixed NOC team sprint. Germany, China, Japan, USA and Colombia are tipped to win medals.
“The 1500m is probably the hardest race,” said Stolz. “It’s kinda like a sprint but it’s not really a sprint, so you’re dead by the last lap, but still you’re trying to carry the speed. It’s exhausting.”
Stolz received early inspiration watching short track speed skater Apolo Ohno (USA) during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
“I loved the speed,” said Stolz. “The camera was on Apolo a lot. I told my parents I wanted to try it, so we shovelled off the snow on a pond in our garden and made a track. It’s quite a big pond - about three acres.”
Stolz is trained by US speed skating legend Shani Davis, who won 1000m gold at the Torino 2006 and Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Having retired after PyeongChang 2018, he has been on hand to deliver plenty of expert assistance.
“The best advice he’s given me has been about my technique and turns,” said Stolz.
“I’m a bit nervous. But you have to keep calm and think about what you want to do in the race, and then it’s fine.
“If I can speed well, I can medal.”