Jordan’s Frozen River

Fred not Lynn

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If your’re looking for a “I was into this guy before he was big” story leading up to the 2026 Olympic Winter Games, it’s time to start paying attention to Jordan Stolz.

Jordan Stolz - American Phenom

The 18 year-old became the youngest skater to win a World Cup race earlier this season, and has gone on to win at least 4 more…completely destroyed the field at the JR World Championships, and this weekend has won both the 500m, 1000m and 1500m at the World Championships…winning 500 & 1000 by 3/10ths of a second and 6/10ths respectively, which are huge margins in those events.

In 2017, his coach at the time, Bob Fenn, died suddenly - and he reached out to his current coach, Bob Corby, who had been out of the sport since 1984, who agreed to take him on as a sort of Tribute to Fenn…and it’s gone pretty well since then.

America’s Next Great Speedskater Is Coming for the Dutch (NYT - Paywalled)

You’ll hear comparisons to Eric Heiden, and while they’re pretty valid, don’t look for a repeat of 1980. Stolz admirably races the 5,000m and 10,000m, and well enough that he’s already favored for the next World Allround Championship (they don’t have that every year anymore - total shame), but he’s never going to win those events at the international level.

His Olympic medal count could, however, rival Heiden’s as he’s got possibilities in team pursuit and mass start events that would have been difficult to shoehorn into his schedule this weekend, but the Olympic program might allow. And he’ll most likely continue past 2026 until at least 2030 (and probably 2034 if Salt Lake City hosts those Games, as many expect) unlike Heiden who retired abruptly at 22 in 1980.

It’s a lot of weight being put on an 18 year old, but I’ve seen him race quite a few times now, met his parents and know Bob Corby pretty well - and the kid is 100% for real…
 

DGreenwood

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So he's better than Apolo Ohno? That's the only speed skater I remember, and I feel like he caused quite a craze.
 

Fred not Lynn

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Here’s a little more from NYT after today’s race.

Vanquishing the Dutch, Jordan Stolz Creates a New Norse Myth

HEERENVEEN, the Netherlands — On the breathtaking final curve of his 500-meter race at speedskating’s world championships Friday night, Jordan Stolz well and truly arrived as the future of speedskating.
But as much as Thialf buzzed over the four-day event about Stolz’s future, and now his present, it was how he skated that curve on Friday that left the speedskating world flabbergasted and desperate for more.
Mark Tuitert, a Dutch speedskater who won three Olympic medals, said it was the greatest final inner curve ever skated. “With the calmness as if he could spread a peanut butter sandwich at 60 kilometers per hour,”
I haven’t seen video of the race yet, but I know he’s got as good turns as I’ve ever seen…so I am not surprised to hear any of this.
 

Fred not Lynn

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Here’s the 500m they’re talking about…


Weird camera angles don’t really do the race justice. And a 9.3 over 100m is also pretty unreal!
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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Fred not Lynn

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and his 500m (my god the comeback in such a short race!)
His top end speed is incredible. And unlike most he actually prefers the tighter last inner turn in the 500m - it’s nice to have something to chase down the backstretch…
and for good measure his 1,500m…Most amazing to me is that he doesn't have the fast splits out of the gate, but has made up an incredible amount of time in his final laps.
That appears to be strategic. Basically in the 1500m you can sprint at the beginning or you can sprint at the end, but you can’t do both. What he seems to be doing is taking the foot off the accelerator and cruising the first lap, then attacking.

Personally I prefer doing it this way, because you never get into too deep of a lactic acid flood and lose control of your muscles. You might give up a half second or so on lap 1 by backing off, but when you start too hard you’ll lose a lot more time than that when you lose motor control on the last lap.
 

themactavish

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So he's better than Apolo Ohno? That's the only speed skater I remember, and I feel like he caused quite a craze.
Ah, you must be too young to remember the great Eric Heiden. He skated in the 1976 Olympics as a 17-year-old, but then he owned the 1980 Olympics, sweeping the men's speedskating events with 5 gold medals. The physical therapist at my college (Carl Nelson) was the head Olympic trainer for a number of Olympics, and he told me once that he'd never seen anyone master and dominate a sport like Heiden. Heiden went on to become a professional cyclist, winning the first Core States U.S. Pro Championship in Philadelphia in 1985 and cycling in the Tour de France, though he was simply too big to be competitive in the mountains. Anyhow, in his day, Heiden was an Olympic god.
 

Fred not Lynn

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The physical therapist at my college (Carl Nelson) was the head Olympic trainer…
A bit of stalking tells me you may be at St Cloud State. You may not know Jordan Stolz, but you may know the Chief Referee for that race…

And Grant Cruikshank at last glance was having a decent season for the hockey team.
 

themactavish

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A bit of stalking tells me you may be at St Cloud State. You may not know Jordan Stolz, but you may know the Chief Referee for that race…

And Grant Cruikshank at last glance was having a decent season for the hockey team.
Good sleuthing! I actually teach philosophy at St. John's University, but I live a short walk from SCSU. The college I referenced was where I went to school and taught for a couple of years, Colby College (Maine). I was a big Heiden fan, both skating and cycling. Unfortunately, I grew up in NYC, and there was no speedskating anywhere remotely in that neighborhood. When I watched it in the Olympics, I thought it was just the most beautiful thing. I take it you're a speedskater. Good on you! What a sport, with such a combination of power, endurance, and beauty.
 

Over Guapo Grande

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That appears to be strategic. Basically in the 1500m you can sprint at the beginning or you can sprint at the end, but you can’t do both. What he seems to be doing is taking the foot off the accelerator and cruising the first lap, then attacking.
This question is coming from someone who loves watching speed skating, but my track experience had spikes, not skates. Comparing the 1500 races between Stolz and Nuis- in the last ...50-100m (?)... Stolz looked all out -- both arms driving, while Nuis looked (from my non-professional eye) to almost be coasting... one or no arms. Is that, do you think, just that he was spent? Or am I reading too much into "sprinting" styles?
 

DGreenwood

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Ah, you must be too young to remember the great Eric Heiden. He skated in the 1976 Olympics as a 17-year-old, but then he owned the 1980 Olympics, sweeping the men's speedskating events with 5 gold medals. The physical therapist at my college (Carl Nelson) was the head Olympic trainer for a number of Olympics, and he told me once that he'd never seen anyone master and dominate a sport like Heiden. Heiden went on to become a professional cyclist, winning the first Core States U.S. Pro Championship in Philadelphia in 1985 and cycling in the Tour de France, though he was simply too big to be competitive in the mountains. Anyhow, in his day, Heiden was an Olympic god.
Yeah, probably. The first Super Bowl I remember was 1981, I would have been seven (I'm a much bigger sports fan than either of my parents so I didn't get a lot of early exposure). I do remember Bruce Jenner but that probably had more to do with Wheaties than any actual sporting event I may have watched.
 
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themactavish

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Yeah, probably. The first Super Bowl I remember was 1981, I would have been seven (I'm a much bigger sports fan than either of my parents so I didn't get a lot of early exposure). I do remember Bruce Jenner but that probably had more to do with Wheaties than any actual sporting even I may have watched.
Ah, you needed the Wheaties 'n Raisins with Heiden on it. He was really something.
 

Fred not Lynn

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This question is coming from someone who loves watching speed skating, but my track experience had spikes, not skates. Comparing the 1500 races between Stolz and Nuis- in the last ...50-100m (?)... Stolz looked all out -- both arms driving, while Nuis looked (from my non-professional eye) to almost be coasting... one or no arms. Is that, do you think, just that he was spent? Or am I reading too much into "sprinting" styles?
I haven’t actually seen the 1500m yet, but know what you’re talking about. I never liked the two-arms up approach to the 1500m, but you do see it. I feel like you aren’t as able to use your arm swing to control tempo, and especially on the last lap, that’s a big deal.

And the 1500m is definitely not a sprint, but the quintessential middle distance race.
 

Fred not Lynn

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Bumping the thread at the start of the World Cup “second season” in Kearns, UT (basically Salt Lake)…

The kid just broke the World Record in the 1000m by more than 3/10th of a second (1:05.37) beating a 4-5 year old record set by a Russian on anything and everything, set on a day where the conditions were way faster. And he hasn’t really started his peak for the season.

Serious one of the most ridiculous athletic performances I’ve ever seen. And he’s not even peaking for the season yet. He won the race by 1,6 seconds over second place - that’s like 40m - over the second best guy on earth…like being on 1st base before the other guy left home.

During the race, I said to the guy next to me (I’m there in person), before we even realized how epic it was, “This must be how it felt to watch Heiden in 1978”…

You people should go watch it on Peacock.
 

Fred not Lynn

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Jordan won the 1500m, by a spread-beating 9/10ths…then casually won the 500m with the first sub-34 500m ever by an American. No World Records today….but you know those are actually kind of rare, right?

And to be clear, in speed skating one does NOT attempt to race a 500m AFTER a 1500m. It simply is not done. And if you DO do it, you most certainly will NOT win the 500m.

I had the privilege of watching from the VIP area. But for today, they set up a small EMIP area within the VIP area for Jake Paul (apparently his entourage requested it). His girlfriend (Jutta Leerdam) seems to be nursing an ankle injury, and the whole Dutch team came in mid-week, so bad timing for altitude adjustment, and didn’t have a great race…

Hate to admit it, but people are a bit geeked out to have an actual celebrity in the building. It’s like having our own Taylor Swift…for a little followed sport, eyeballs are always good!


77295
 
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Fred not Lynn

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Another day and another win for Jordan Stolz in the 1000m, but this time he didn’t beat the spread - winning by 0.08. Followed it up with a so-so 5,000m. He put a lot of races in his legs this weekend - they were probably a bit heavy for the 5k. American Kimi Goetz had a stellar race to win the women’s 1,000m by 0.09 over Jutta Leerdam (who looked much better than yesterday).

Jake and Jutta made a point of conspicuous celebration….

77331

Pretty much right after that, he left to go watch football. She went to go warm down…
 

InstaFace

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I will say it's nice that they're actually still getting use out of the 2002 olympic venues, that they're not totally white elephants and are still hosting events - even if it's like twice a year.

I remember @candylandriots telling me he'd go up to Lake Placid to do his skeleton runs, and that LP and SLC were the only two places in the US that you could do it. Makes sense, though - those are the only places here that have hosted the Winter Games, 1980 and 2002 (at least, since 1960 in Tahoe). You gotta be crazy enough to do skeleton in the first place, doing it on a 40+ year old track is a whole other level, but I guess if they upkeep the venues because they're getting credible use then what does it matter.

Then again maybe you can host a proper speed skating event in any old rink, for all I know. I have no idea how specialized a location is required.
 

Fred not Lynn

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I will say it's nice that they're actually still getting use out of the 2002 olympic venues, that they're not totally white elephants and are still hosting events - even if it's like twice a year…Then again maybe you can host a proper speed skating event in any old rink, for all I know. I have no idea how specialized a location is required.
Almost all international level long track speed skating takes place at indoor ovals now, with Calgary, Heerenveen and East Berlin all opening in 1987 - so not quite 40 years old now, but close.

Calgary is still considered top-level, and will host the World Championships in three weeks. Heerenveen is still the epicenter of the sport, but had a major rebuild/renovation about 7 years ago and feels like a totally different building than it was in 1987. East Berlin was a lesser venue then, still is today, and with the German Speed Skating Federation being in complete political disarray it’s not going to host much anytime soon.

All that said, I think it’s a complete travesty that you now need a $50,000,000+ building to host a World Cup at the Senior level. The sport needs to find its way back outdoors, to less costly venues, if it intends to stay relevant.

And of course, for Salt Lake the best use of the 2002 Olympic facilities is to use them again as 2034 Olympic facilities…

Also - the Utah Olympic Oval is used for events once or twice a year, but more importantly it’s used for training at all levels, and local community programming every day. The term “White Elephant” gets applied way too much.
 

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I remember @candylandriots telling me he'd go up to Lake Placid to do his skeleton runs, and that LP and SLC were the only two places in the US that you could do it. Makes sense, though - those are the only places here that have hosted the Winter Games, 1980 and 2002 (at least, since 1960 in Tahoe).
Fun tidbit from Wiki:

Melvil Dewey, who invented the Dewey Decimal System, designed what was then called "Placid Park Club" in 1895. This inspired the village to change its name to Lake Placid, an incorporated village in 1900. Dewey kept the club open through the winter in 1905, which aided the development of winter sports in the area.​

Lake Placid would go on to host the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. The latter's Olympic Village was designed to Bureau of Prisons standards and became FCI Ray Brook after the games. Those were also the first games to use artificial snow.
 

candylandriots

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I will say it's nice that they're actually still getting use out of the 2002 olympic venues, that they're not totally white elephants and are still hosting events - even if it's like twice a year.

I remember @candylandriots telling me he'd go up to Lake Placid to do his skeleton runs, and that LP and SLC were the only two places in the US that you could do it. Makes sense, though - those are the only places here that have hosted the Winter Games, 1980 and 2002 (at least, since 1960 in Tahoe). You gotta be crazy enough to do skeleton in the first place, doing it on a 40+ year old track is a whole other level, but I guess if they upkeep the venues because they're getting credible use then what does it matter.

Then again maybe you can host a proper speed skating event in any old rink, for all I know. I have no idea how specialized a location is required.
The track in Lake Placid was actually built for the Winter Goodwill Games in 2000. The 1980 track sits right next to it.

Kind of an interesting story about that...at least how it related to my skeleton. I used to go up on the weekends to train. The track made a bunch of money taking tourists on taxi rides. So they would take them down the 1980 track and the athletes would use the new track. But the refrigeration system broke on the 1980 track around 2009 or so. And it was so old, that they couldn't get any replacement parts for it. So they had to shut it down, and take the tourists on the new track on the weekends, effectively shutting out the development athletes from weekend training. Which wasn't a huge deal for them, since they lived that the Olympic Training Center. But for me, with a 5-hour drive each way and a full-time job, it pretty much ended my "development" such as it was, and I basically moved my sled to Switzerland and only went there for like a week at a time for fun after that.

Utah did a really nice job of keeping the facilities open for the people of Utah, in a way that I wish other places would do.

A couple more pieces of trivia about the tracks...Squaw Valley did not have sliding sports, as they never built a track there. And for 2026, Milan said they were going to restore the track at Cortina d'Ampezzo for the competition, but did not do so. And will not be doing so. So I'd put it at like 95% chance that they do the sliding sports for those Olympics at St. Moritz, about a 3-4 hour drive away. Which will be an awesome place for it. That track is the best. Especially for a slow runner like me, haha.

There have been a bunch of tracks that have closed down due to underuse and expense: Cortina, Torino, Nagano, Calgary are the ones that immediately come to mind, but there are a few more. Interestingly, they just had the first World Cup races at Lillehammer in like 20 years last week. And La Plagne is back on the tour again too.

Königsee got WRECKED by some storms a few years back, and is now going to be rebuilt, at a cost of €60 million!

Sorry for the detour from speed skating :)
 

InstaFace

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Sorry for the detour from speed skating :)
All them sports that get 99% of their attention in two weeks every four years need to stick together.

Thanks for the story! And yeah, SLC seems to have been like the shining example of how to actually use the Games to improve infrastructure, bring in some money, and not saddle the community with a ton of debt and things they don't need. Not that anyone needs, like, a ski jump, but in a country that otherwise would lack them entirely and needs somewhere to train the handful of athletes in the Olympic program, better to bet on SLC than keeping up infrastructure in Lake Placid in a global-warming world. I wonder how much of that vision was Mitt Romney and how much has just been Utah officials and the US Olympic Committee converging on an investment plan to keep the facilities relevant and earning their keep year-round.

Too bad about Cortina d'Ampezzo. I've been there for a wedding... it was breathtakingly gorgeous. Huge mountain ranges on 3 sides, and 2 hours from Venice. Would've been quite the travel incentive. And on the drive up from Venice, you can see the 1956 Games ski jump just sitting there by the side of the highway, in its ruin, probably untouched in 30+ years if not 60.

There have been a bunch of tracks that have closed down due to underuse and expense: Cortina, Torino, Nagano, Calgary are the ones that immediately come to mind, but there are a few more. Interestingly, they just had the first World Cup races at Lillehammer in like 20 years last week. And La Plagne is back on the tour again too.
There's probably an analogy to speed skating (and other Olympics-dominated sports) with this note. You happen to know the story for track sliding, FNL for speed skating, but I'm sure it's the same - we have X facilities built in the world for it, but sustaining the sport's annual competition calendar and providing decent options for World Championships and the Olympics requires Y facilities, with X > Y. How do we decide which ones should be kept (or rebuilt in a storm), and which should be built with post-Games disassembly in mind, or abandoned? The market function is one option, just see which ones can pull off profitable competition and training / tourist / recreational use. But it seems like survival is often dependent on continued government investment, or on government picking winners. And surely would be more efficient than letting all of them go right up to the borderline of underinvestment, disuse and abandonment. Must be hard for a libertarian to reconcile :) You've also got the competing factors of national pride involved, and that to right-size the global inventory of facilities and make X = Y, some countries will have to shut theirs down and not have any, including some rich countries, while others keep theirs. It's an interesting collective-action problem.
 

candylandriots

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All them sports that get 99% of their attention in two weeks every four years need to stick together.

Thanks for the story! And yeah, SLC seems to have been like the shining example of how to actually use the Games to improve infrastructure, bring in some money, and not saddle the community with a ton of debt and things they don't need. Not that anyone needs, like, a ski jump, but in a country that otherwise would lack them entirely and needs somewhere to train the handful of athletes in the Olympic program, better to bet on SLC than keeping up infrastructure in Lake Placid in a global-warming world. I wonder how much of that vision was Mitt Romney and how much has just been Utah officials and the US Olympic Committee converging on an investment plan to keep the facilities relevant and earning their keep year-round.

Too bad about Cortina d'Ampezzo. I've been there for a wedding... it was breathtakingly gorgeous. Huge mountain ranges on 3 sides, and 2 hours from Venice. Would've been quite the travel incentive. And on the drive up from Venice, you can see the 1956 Games ski jump just sitting there by the side of the highway, in its ruin, probably untouched in 30+ years if not 60.


There's probably an analogy to speed skating (and other Olympics-dominated sports) with this note. You happen to know the story for track sliding, FNL for speed skating, but I'm sure it's the same - we have X facilities built in the world for it, but sustaining the sport's annual competition calendar and providing decent options for World Championships and the Olympics requires Y facilities, with X > Y. How do we decide which ones should be kept (or rebuilt in a storm), and which should be built with post-Games disassembly in mind, or abandoned? The market function is one option, just see which ones can pull off profitable competition and training / tourist / recreational use. But it seems like survival is often dependent on continued government investment, or on government picking winners. And surely would be more efficient than letting all of them go right up to the borderline of underinvestment, disuse and abandonment. Must be hard for a libertarian to reconcile :) You've also got the competing factors of national pride involved, and that to right-size the global inventory of facilities and make X = Y, some countries will have to shut theirs down and not have any, including some rich countries, while others keep theirs. It's an interesting collective-action problem.
Where a track could really make money, I think is in the southern hemisphere. There are none, and the demand to train there during northern summer would be something.

I was actually just coming back to share a video of the old LP track. It was concrete on the side, and those guys had some rough rides back in the day. It used to be in Wide World of Sports like once a year, and people would routinely be shown getting pretty banged up.

View: https://youtu.be/oMNuOWVFx0E?si=CXhS_J-OA7XURMbm
 

InstaFace

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I was actually just coming back to share a video of the old LP track. It was concrete on the side, and those guys had some rough rides back in the day. It used to be in Wide World of Sports like once a year, and people would routinely be shown getting pretty banged up.
Well what the heck do they have elsewhere, padding? Is it like the bumpers they put into the bowling gutters during kids' parties so they don't throw 90% gutter balls?

I guess I have the same question for speed skating, considering if you blow a tire at the wrong time there you're hitting the wall at 50mph in nothing but spandex.
 

candylandriots

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Well what the heck do they have elsewhere, padding? Is it like the bumpers they put into the bowling gutters during kids' parties so they don't throw 90% gutter balls?

I guess I have the same question for speed skating, considering if you blow a tire at the wrong time there you're hitting the wall at 50mph in nothing but spandex.
Basically, the newer refrigerated tracks have ice everywhere and wood at the top to prevent you from getting thrown out of the track (something that I was 3/3 on the one time I tried Cresta). That was one of the big problems at Cortina as the last time they had competitions there, skeleton athletes weren’t allowed because they now consider it unsafe with all the exposed concrete there. Track design is better, as is the equipment. People sometimes put little pads under their speed suits. I had these little 3mm neoprene pads I’d put on my hips, and I had soccer ankle protectors, as those were places I tended to bruise. Of course, my one injury was my mangled left thumb. Kinda hard to protect that.

If you watch the video, those guys aren’t just the weekend warriors. The Swiss dude at the end, Gregor Stähli is a 2-time Olympic medalist. And if you saw my post about my greatest athletic accomplishment, he actually WON that race, at the age of 50 or so. He’s such a good guy too. He runs the track now in St Moritz.
 

Fred not Lynn

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I guess I have the same question for speed skating, considering if you blow a tire at the wrong time there you're hitting the wall at 50mph in nothing but spandex.
Fortunately, it’s not a wall you see (despite that at a World Cup it’s a wall of advertising), it’s a set of soft pads connected with a fastening device behind than that has some give (and usually at least 3-6 feet of clearance). The pads will absorb the impact and move into that clearance area, and not rebound the athlete back into the track.

For as fast as you go, long track speed skating is remarkably safe. The advent of the clap skate really cut down on falls, as the ice doesn’t get churned up nearly as much. Back before the clap skate they’d always run the races with the top seed first, but now they can do the best skaters last - which just makes for a better viewing experience.
 
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Fred not Lynn

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Thanks for the story! And yeah, SLC seems to have been like the shining example of how to actually use the Games to improve infrastructure, bring in some money, and not saddle the community with a ton of debt and things they don't need
Popular rhetoric is that Olympic Games are horribly unprofitable, but reality is that the last three North American Winter Games (Calgary, Salt Lake & Vancouver) were profitable, and generated sizable funds that have supported programming and operation of the legacy facilities (I could put in an asterisk for Calgary. Some poor investments and the financial adventures of 2007-8 decimated their fund. Actual spending on sport had nothing to with that, though). Sure you can argue the definition of “profitable” depending on what infrastructure projects get wrapped in, but there was money left over - so that’s what I’m going with.

Not that anyone needs, like, a ski jump, but in a country that otherwise would lack them entirely and needs somewhere to train the handful of athletes in the Olympic program, better to bet on SLC than keeping up infrastructure in Lake Placid in a global-warming world….
More importantly, when it comes to where to base actual programs, better to bet on a growing major metropolitan area with a population of well more than a million people, with the accompanying employment and educational opportunities, over a sleepy little tourist town at least a three hour drive from even the closest semi-major airport.

I much appreciate what ORDA (the NY state run organization that runs the 1980 legacy facilities) has done to rebuild everything, EVEN the speed skating oval, and pull off the World University Games last year - but in the end Lake Placid is a tourist attraction and a youth sports tournament hub. It’s no place fora young athlete to thrive outside of their insular sport environment.
There's probably an analogy to speed skating (and other Olympics-dominated sports) with this note. You happen to know the story for track sliding, FNL for speed skating, but I'm sure it's the same - we have X facilities built in the world for it, but sustaining the sport's annual competition calendar and providing decent options for World Championships and the Olympics requires Y facilities, with X > Y. How do we decide which ones should be kept (or rebuilt in a storm), and which should be built with post-Games disassembly in mind, or abandoned? The market function is one option, just see which ones can pull off profitable competition and training / tourist / recreational use. But it seems like survival is often dependent on continued government investment, or on government picking winners. And surely would be more efficient than letting all of them go right up to the borderline of underinvestment, disuse and abandonment. Must be hard for a libertarian to reconcile :) You've also got the competing factors of national pride involved, and that to right-size the global inventory of facilities and make X = Y, some countries will have to shut theirs down and not have any, including some rich countries, while others keep theirs. It's an interesting collective-action problem.
The underlying problem is that people outside of these sports’ relatively small world only see and think of the Olympic facilities. Olympic facilities blatantly ignore one of the first rules of facility feasibility; “Don’t build your church for Easter Sunday”, and when these overbuilt cathedrals struggle financially, that struggle is projected to ALL the facilities for those sports. Sure, Utah Olympic Oval is able to survive through support from Utah Athletic Foundation (Salt Lake’s version of ORDA), but are you at all familiar with the far less sexy Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee which successfully operates as a non-profit using user revenue to cover costs? Probably not because no one thinks a success story is going to get enough outrage clicks, and also OLYMPICS!

I can’t speak to the sliding sports, which I think have a very unique challenge - there’s no mass participation potential. No public skating sessions with 500 people paying $10 to skate and another $15 per cap for food & beverage…no sheets of hockey ice to create more revenue - just pretty high-priced tourist rides and fees from sliders themselves (which I can’t imagine being near enough to sustain a track, but Candylandriots can tell us more about that.

Since we have Candylandriots in the conversation - One of my very favorite speed skating ovals on earth is Wilmerdorf Eisstadion in West Berlin - I remember training morning weekend sessions there, and all the public skaters would be allowed onto the hockey rink on the infield at 11:45, and it got packed with maybe 1,000 people - and you’d better be done with your work out by 11:59:59 because at noon SHARP those gates were going to open and the masses would invade the oval…and I didn’t mind, because I knew their money and their tax dollars made this thing I was using possible.
 

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I have a pretty long post in mind on this subject, but it’s 9:30pm, I’ve got a buzz, I was up until 4:30am watching the 49ers and I have some work to do, so it will come tomorrow most likely :)
 

candylandriots

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I'm not sure that this is going to be totally coherent, but I did want to write a little bit about the finances of the sliding sports (at least as I understand them) and discuss a little bit of what I think could be done to build, and more importantly, maintain tracks in different places.

First of all, for the reasons @Fred not Lynn correctly points out, it's very difficult to get the sort of mass participation in say, bobsled, that would make the finances for opening a facility of that sort work. Most tracks now are artificial and refrigerated. If we take the cost of rebuilding Königsee in Bavaria as kind of a starting point of €60 million (about $66 million, give or take), you can immediately see the problem. And that price presumably does not require the acquisition of land, as it's rebuilding a severely damaged track. Germany seems like a decent median for a cost structure in building a track. It probably costs more in the US (where labor costs are higher) and building a track in a place like Sochi, Russia or outside of Beijing, for some recent examples, are probably a lot cheaper. So we kind of have to assume that the construction is going to come as a part of some bigger event, like the Olympics. Nobody is building a track for any other purpose. It's just not gonna happen.

So it's a question about how to keep up with the operating expenses, if you consider the construction as basically a given. And that's going to be harder than it sounds. Again FNL has the right idea, I think, about locating a track near a major metropolitan area. That is important for the economics, but also for the sporting aspect of it as well. If a nation is making that kind of capital investment, it presumably wants to become more successful in the sports to justify that investment. The Korean skeleton program has done and excellent job of this, and the Chinese team has done as well. I was in St. Moritz during an international training week a few years back (before the Beijing Winter Olympics), and I swear that they had 40 new athletes there training in St. Moritz that week. I don't know how they selected them all exactly, and there were a bunch that seemed to have no idea what they were doing really, but you could tell a few of them were naturals. And some of the people I slid with that week are now among the best in the world. No idea what happened to the others haha.

But the reason that is important is having that facility within a relatively close drive from Beijing opens an enormous pool of talent. The facility at Park City is able to do something similar, and Whistler has to be a big attraction for Canadian athletes. Heck, we've even had discussions in Breakfast With Gazza about the US basically focusing on recruiting say, all the best athletes from Southern California as a way to focus its efforts over a massive country. It's the same theory here too. And I also do want to reiterate what FNL said about ORDA. What they do with the population and area that they have to work with, is nothing short of amazing. One of my friends from the sport grew up in that area, and started as a junior luge athlete, and switched to skeleton. But there just aren't enough people there to make that kind of talent mining worthwhile. It does work as a pretty great spot for development athletes though, that they can focus on their sport 100%. But that really doesn't work until they're over 18 and out of high school. So the USBSF tries really hard to get athletes from other sports (mainly track and field, but can be others as well), to give it a try after college. But it's hard to do that and compete against Germans and Latvians that have already have a 5+ year head start.

The track in Lake Placid is usually open longer than any other track in the world. I've been there in early October and slid in 70 degree weather in April (slowly, mind you), but those reps are big. That can't happen in a place like Park City, where the latitude and sunshine are a constant battle -- which is a big part of the reason that I think the USBSF remains headquartered in LP (though PC is considered an "easy" track, while LP is considered difficult - despite my own experiences being the opposite) but probably draws more talent from Utah. That's one of the reasons that Denver has never been a place for a track, even though it would seem to tick a lot of those boxes. If there were a track in Denver for some hypothetical future Olympics there, it would be tough to keep open long enough each year to justify it.

So, if you have the sporting thing covered and the track paid for, it becomes a battle against operating expenses. Now, I honestly have no idea how much it costs to run a track every year. All I know is that it can't be cheap. Next time I'm in St. Moritz, I'll ask Gregor (I think he'd tell me), but it's also the only natural track left, which makes it a very different comparison. I'll get into that more in a minute. But assuming a refrigerated track, your big expenses are going to be electricity #1 (it takes a lot to keep a 1300m ice tube cold), labor (you need people to maintain the track and facilities, drive athletes from the bottom back to the top, run the office, provide taxi rides, and a number of less visible roles). I'm just throwing out a number here, but my guess is a minimum of $5 million a year, and maybe more. Your sources of revenue are those taxi rides, athlete fees, maybe some sponsorships (the Lake Placid track was called the Verizon Sliding Center when I was going there), some visitor fees and merchandise. I can't imagine that the sponsorships are going to be worth all that much...maybe $100,000 of that? Maybe you make another $100,000 or so on merchandise, so you've got $4.8 million to make up on sliding fees. Ouch. I feel like I got charged like $30 run at Lake Placid, and it was cheaper if you were on the national team -- maybe half that. Let's say you've got 50 development athletes across disciplines, each paying $20 per run, going 2x per day for 100 days (and that's a pretty sizable program). So that's $200,000 in athlete fees. $4.6 million to go. Taxi rides earn a lot of money, but they reduce the availability of the track for your athletes. Let's say you can run it 4 hours a day. You could feasibly get in 20 rides an hour, give or take (it would go faster for people who know what they're doing). An average taxi ride is $150 per person (cheaper in some places, more expensive in others). You get three paying passengers, and for ease of math, but also adding in some souvenirs figure $500/ride. If you run that constantly, every one of those 100 days (which is basically impossible, as there are holidays, weather closures, World Cup and other events), you're going to earn $1 million. So now we're down to a $3.6 million deficit, and running out of ideas on how to earn more.

For comparison, I paid CHF30 for every ride from like 2005-2019, and last year I think it had been raised to 40. A taxi ride there is CHF250 a person (last I checked), but...that's St. Moritz.

Obviously, the math is tough here. Expanding participation is dicey. You can't have any schmoe go down the track. They're going to get hurt, and your insurance is going to hate you. Park City did some interesting stuff with opening club sports for locals, and it did well for a while, but then it seems that they've mostly shut that down, though I could be wrong.

I'm sure brighter minds than mine have tried to solve this dilemma, but there isn't an easy answer, and you can quickly see how a country like Italy, with budget concerns quite different from China or even the US has had to close their facilities, and refuses to build a new one.

A quick word about St. Moritz and the natural ice track there. They build again every single year. So every year, it's ever so slightly different (and therefore, track records there are only good for the season), though always following the same path. Most years, there is enough snow around to build it. Some years there isn't, and they need to go higher into the mountains and truck it down. They are basically only able to keep it open from around Christmas until the beginning of March, when Mother Nature, the sun and warmth make it impossible to maintain. I'm guessing that their operating expenses are a bit cheaper there (without the massive electricity usage), but they pay for it by reconstructing the track every single year. That *could* be a model for other places, but St. Moritz is almost unique in a few ways to allow this: it's a massive center for winter tourism, the visitors are almost uniformly wealthy, it's basically the birthplace of the sport, and probably most importantly, they have a labor pool with the experience of doing this extremely specialized task every year. Plus, most of those people are seasonal workers from Italy, that earn much more than they could make doing "unskilled" labor at home, but are paid less than what they typical Swiss worker would earn. And St. Moritz has that pool of talent to draw on in a way that a place like Lake Placid could find extremely difficult, if not impossible. As would many other winter resorts.

So, I certainly haven't solved the problem, but hopefully have shed some light on what those problems are. I'm not sure that it is the most essential use of taxpayer money, if I'm being honest. But I've always loved the Olympics, and perhaps if you stuff it into some kind of "national pride" thing, burning $0.10 for every man, woman and child in the US to maintain a sliding center isn't exactly breaking the bank either.

@Fred not Lynn I can barely skate, but I'm kinda interested to check out the Eisstadion in Wilmersdorf now!
 

candylandriots

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PS sorry that I turned this into such a thread hijack. And I realized that I didn’t get much into building elsewhere, because after thinking about it, you basically can’t.

Maybe put one in Iceland with all the cheap electricity and darkness?
 

Fred not Lynn

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Another race day and another 1000m win for young Mr. Stolz. 4 In a row now.

This time it was at the inaugural World Cup on the Gaetan Boucher Oval at the Centre de Glacé Intact in Ste Foy, Quebec (Quebec City suburb), which I have also insanely decided to attend. This now is the closest covered speed skating oval to Boston - and if it had been here 30 years ago I’d probably be married to a Quebecoise (maybe divorced by now) and speak fluent French…

Stolz started on inner and came over the top of his pair on the second backstretch, lead the whole race by over 1 second at 600m. There was some “conflict” on that crossing - I honestly don’t know if his pair got DQ’d or not, but that’s useless to the guy who got impeded. Sure you’re entitled to a re-skate. No one ever goes faster on their re-skate. Few even bother to take it.

Anyway, I feel like Stolz lost a little momentum, and that actually means a lot. He wound up winning by 4/10th (which is still a lot in the real world, but seems pedestrian for Jordan now).

A lot of teams either skipped the whole thing this weekend, or sent “B” teams. Everyone has their brains and bodies on the World Championships in Calgary two weeks from now - coming across North America and down from altitude for this is a hassle. It’s awkward scheduling. So no Jutta Leerdam (and no Jake Paul).

There has been a refrigerated outdoor oval on this site since the early 80’s. The guys who were behind getting it under a roof (which it needed. Quebec City in winter can be…unpleasant) are all guys I skated with - I love what they’ve done. The rink has 100% been designed as a sustainable community rec facility. High performance fits in, but not at expense of people. Hosting a World Cup is a challenge, but better to squeeze in that Easter Sunday crowd once a year somehow, than look at (and pay for) empty space the other 51 weeks.
 

Fred not Lynn

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The ISU needs to stop scheduling the 500m to be AFTER longer races. Last weekend it was after the 5,000m, today it was after the 1,500m. This is bullshit…

Not that it was a problem for Jordan Stolz. He won them both today - with an hour between, maybe less. The 1500 messes one’s body up. Legs hurt, lungs burn and you can’t stop coughing (the fifteen-hundred-meter-hack), sometimes for a few days.

Unless you’re Jordan Stolz. If you’re him, racing against the track-record holder at his home track, which was built by his dad and friends, and said track recorder didn’t just race a 1,500m, you just shut up, show up, and win the race, but only by 0.09 seconds. And not even a track record.

There’s another 500m tomorrow - and it’s not preceded by a 1,500m…I’m interested to see what happens.
 

candylandriots

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Sorry to continue the threadjack, but I can’t believe what I just read. This is so ill-considered and stupid, that the only explanation I can come up with is graft.

There is no way that this track will be finished in time for homologation, which has to happen a little over one year from now. The IBSF has subsequently released a statement telling the organizing committee how dumb and dangerous this is, and there are ample amounts of both if they go through with this.

I would have hoped people learned their lessons after the fatal luge accident at Whistler during the 2010 Olympics, especially after athletes raised numerous safety concerns, but something something doomed to repeat it.

https://gamesbids.com/eng/winter-olympic-bids/italy-signs-risky-sliding-track-deal-for-milan-cortina-2026-winter-olympics-against-ioc-recommendation/
 

Fred not Lynn

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Sorry to continue the threadjack, but I can’t believe what I just read. This is so ill-considered and stupid…
The biggest objection to hosting the Winter Games is that you need to have a sliding sport track, and a place for long track speed skating…and Italy’s organizers have done a splendid job of dodging those two facility requirements.

I’ll leave the grousing about the sliding centre to CLR, but they’ve been equally avoiding the long track oval. At first, it was to have been a new building over the existing oval in Baselga di Pine (site of my first World Cup, and home of the best food on the Euro circuit). They balked at the expense, and considered re-use of the Torino oval - but for some reason didn’t go that direction, and as of now it look a like it might be a temporary oval at a Milan convention center.

You know, if you can’t be bothered to actually host the actual sports, I’m not sure why you bid for the Olympic Games…other than “Nobody else wanted them…”
 

Fred not Lynn

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Oh, also - unburdened by a 1,500 first, Jordan Stolz once again won the 500m at today’s World Cup in Ste Foy, QC. Stolz is the Harlem Globetrotters, everyone else is the Washington Generals.
 

candylandriots

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The biggest objection to hosting the Winter Games is that you need to have a sliding sport track, and a place for long track speed skating…and Italy’s organizers have done a splendid job of dodging those two facility requirements.

I’ll leave the grousing about the sliding centre to CLR, but they’ve been equally avoiding the long track oval. At first, it was to have been a new building over the existing oval in Baselga di Pine (site of my first World Cup, and home of the best food on the Euro circuit). They balked at the expense, and considered re-use of the Torino oval - but for some reason didn’t go that direction, and as of now it look a like it might be a temporary oval at a Milan convention center.

You know, if you can’t be bothered to actually host the actual sports, I’m not sure why you bid for the Olympic Games…other than “Nobody else wanted them…”
Yeah, that all scans from what I know of this organizing committee. So, have they even broken ground on the Oval? I have no concept of how long it might take to construct one.

As far as the sliding goes, this could get really interesting, politically. The IBSF (and presumably also FIL, but I know less about them) I don't think are going to stand for a track that is delivered too late. I'm afraid that rushed construction ends turns into cut corners, and cut corners can turn into injuries. One of my good friends from skeleton quit after the first World Cup at Whistler after she broke her ribs...said, "if this is where the sport is going, I'm out." That was a slightly different set of problems that what Milan has, but man...It could get really contentious if Milan finishes this track too late for homologation (the process where they basically test the track out to make sure it's safe and give the athletes a minimum number of trips) and there is a showdown between the federations trying to look out for their athletes' safety, and Milan trying to look out for their €80 million investment.

The thing is, I'm afraid I know which side will win.

Is there a similar process in speed skating, where the track is tested for deficiencies, safety, and athletes are given a minimum amount of time to become accustomed to it? While I suppose the risk of death is smaller, people could still get pretty injured if there is an imperfection in the track at those speeds.
 

Fred not Lynn

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Yeah, that all scans from what I know of this organizing committee. So, have they even broken ground on the Oval? I have no concept of how long it might take to construct one….

…Is there a similar process in speed skating, where the track is tested for deficiencies.
They’re not going to build an oval. Mostly likely they will do a modular rink at a convention hall…and from a technical perspective, that can work great. I don’t like that it doesn’t leave a legacy - but maybe someone can acquire the temp rink and make it work elsewhere.

Normally there is a test event (a World Cup or World Championship) in the season the year prior to the Games - but I wouldn’t hold my breath on Milano getting their shit together in time to pull that off for long track.
 

Fred not Lynn

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Bumping the thread (and cleaning up the title) at the World Championships - Single Distance in Calgary this weekend.

They call this the “Single Distance” Championships because each race is a Championship unto itself. In March there will be the Allround and Sprint Worlds in Inzell (Germany) where a weekends worth of races are combined and titles awarded. The single distance Championship was introduced in 1996 (or so), and since then has more or less eclipsed the Allround and Sprints in prestige. This weekend here and now is The Big One for the season.

Jordan Stolz is favored to repeat in 500m, 1000m and 1500m…so far he’s showed little vulnerability at any of those, even though he has altered his training to get better at 5000m so he can take a run at the World Allround in Inzell (yes, he could win the World Sprint in his sleep, and probably would it things were timetabled to let you race both. But they aren’t, so he’s chosen the greater challenge [and historically the more prestigious of the two. I’ll talk about that more in March when they’re in Inzell]).

500m is today. Men and Women. Erin Jackson has been going pretty good lately, too…

We will also see the Team Pursuit - and the American men (Emory Lehman, Ethan Cepuran, Casey Dawson) look to continue maybe not dominance, but definitely being top contenders. Dawsons dad is from New Hampshire if you’re looking for a New England tie to cheer for.

Calgary was my home for more than 30 years - it feels weird to be at a hotel here, but at least I get to see who had what for breakfast, I guess…Jordan Stolz had pancakes.
 

Fred not Lynn

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The pancakes seemed to work. Another race, another win. Jordan missed the World Record in the 500m by 3/100ths of a second, but frankly I’d rather see him take that one in Salt Lake so he can do that placard snapping thing again - he was last inner today, and for the first time I saw hints of realization that he was moving faster than any human ever has before on ice skates as he negotiated that curve - and some minor trepidation as he cleared the apex. And THEN acceleration, if that was even possible.

I feel bad for Candian Laurent Dubreuil, who has inherited the Geatan Boucher role to Stolz’s Heiden. Great race for him too - but…

US Men Team Pursuit was disappointed in 4th. Never quite got in synch. It happens.
 

Fred not Lynn

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Stolz with the 1000m win. His completely uneventful dominance is something to see.

The most interesting race of the day was the women’s mass start. The field had the good fortune of seeing Irene Schouten (NED) fall on the first lap, but foolishly failed to accelerate and drop her - so inevitably she reconnected, and won in the final sprint.

Here’s a pic of Stolz (on the outer lane) from the sold out Calgary Oval. Candylandriots might recognize the Olympic Champion to my left (it’s not the photo I was hoping for, he turned just before I took it).

78319
 

Fred not Lynn

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Two straight years of the three race sweep - Stolz followed up the 500 & 1000m wins with an again uneventful 1500m…

Next on the agenda is the World Allround Championships in Inzell. Up until 1972 (I think) the World Allround was the ONLY World Championship. It’s a combination of 500m, 1500m, 5000m & 10,000m races - with each race’s “score” being your time in seconds divided by how many 500m increments in the race….so basically it’s prorated for distance.

Back in the day, if you were only good at short races - sorry. Thats the World Championship and you’re out of luck….then they introduced the World Sprints - a similar scoring system, but only over 500m & 1000m…which you do twice. I think it’s a silly combination. 1000m is hardly a “sprint”.

So anyway, with the creation of the single distance Championships the two combined Championships lost some prestige, and now they only have them every second year, combined on the same weekend (and scheduled so it is impossible to do both).

This year, Jordan Stolz could win the World Sprints in his sleep, so naturally he’s choosen to try to win the Allrounds instead. It’s a bit of an homage to a beautiful tradition (Jordan, his family and his coach are awesome about respecting the sport and its traditions)…and also I think a way to keep the sport challenging, and interesting for him.

That is in a couple weeks - I won’t be there, but will probably watch on Peacock. And post about it on here…
 

Fred not Lynn

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Inzell, Germany is buried in the mountains about an hour and a half drive east of Munich - not even big enough for its own train station - but somehow this small town became the World’s epicenter for speed skating through the last quarter of the 20th century. When all the ovals were outdoor ovals, the one there was always first in the free world to open.

The rink itself was tucked in next to a small, steep mountain called Falkenstein (an attractive nuisance with a via ferrata which ended more than a few skaters seasons before they began), situated in such a way that the ice was protected from direct sunlight all but about three hours a day. On a good day it was quite possibly the most beautiful place on earth…

The first few weeks of October each year were a glorious combination of boot camp and spring break. On a sunny day, temps climbed into the high 70s, and for those few magic hours it felt like skating at the beach. Each night Fanz-Joseph’s and the Bichl-Keller buzzed with the energy of old friends reconnecting and new ones being made while endless half-liters of Schneider Weiss replenished the calories that had been spent on the ice earlier.

Then in the 90’s indoor ovals took precedence…and the Inzell scene dissipated. There were still major Championships there every now and then, but not as many as there had been. The local authorities panicked, and quite foolishly (in my biased opinion) built a roof. It was like correcting the awkward smile on that lady’s picture at The Louvre. It was a special place spoiled. The new building was beautiful, but it was a beautiful building that could have been built in Munich.

This weekend Inzell hosts the combined World Allround and World Sprint Championships, and Jordan Stolz has chosen, despite being the prohibitive favorite in the Sprints, the race for the Allround instead. The Allround has always been the more prestigious of the two - it’s been a thing for more than a century, while the Sprint is an awkward combination created in the 1960’s to throw a bone to the sprinters. The advent of the individual distance Championships (the event in Calgary a few weeks ago) has taken attention away from both, and they only even happen every second year now.

The Sprints were on Thursday and Friday, with the Allrounds on Saturday and Sunday - making it logistically possible for Stolz to skate both, and truth is, he wanted to and had to be talked out of it (Japan’s Miho Takagi attempted the feat, but withdrew after day one of Allround - an indicator that maybe it was a bad idea).

I’m posting now after the first three distances. In yesterday’s 500m Stolz won the 500m in a track record, nearly 2 seconds faster than the nearest legit contender for the title, Dutch Patrick Roest - after the math is done, the equivalent of 20 seconds in the 5,000m (or 2/3rds of a lap). Roest took back 8 seconds in the 5,000m but Stolz was a surprisingly competitive 8th place with a personal record.

In today’s 1,500m, it was Stolz winning as expected - but only 1.6 seconds ahead of 2nd place Roest. I had expected a 2 or more second gap there.

Next is the 10,000m, which gets talked about as being excessively difficult, but really the 5k is harder. Stolz leads the overall points by enough that he can afford to give 33 seconds to Roest - a bit over a full lap.
 

Fred not Lynn

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EPILOG - No, Jordan Stolz didn’t lose the 10k by more than 33 seconds, and yes he added the World Allround to his collection of Championships this season. Stolz skated an amazingly mature race, doing pretty much every lap in the low 31s, vs Roest who made an attack dipped into the mid 29s for a few laps mid-race, only to blow up into high 31s. It was all a bit anti-climactic, but was really an epic 4 race combination for Stolz. He wound up setting the World Record for the 500-1500-5000-10000 combination.

There’s also a statistical thing in speed skating called the “Adelskalendar” where they rank a skaters combined personal records in each of those four distances - Stolz missed taking top spot on that by about 1 second in the 10k, equivalent to 0.05 seconds on the 500m - so next time he does a personal record in any distance, he’ll almost certainly take top spot on that list too.
 

AB in DC

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