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Taylorsville Journal

Top speedskaters race to medals, world records at Utah Olympic Oval

Mar 04, 2024 12:10PM ● By Tom Haraldsen

Nineteen-year-old U.S. speedskater Jordan Stolz set a new world record in the men’s 1,000 meters at the World Cup speedskating championships held at the Utah Olympic Oval. (Tom Haraldsen/City Journals)

Since Utah hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, the state’s legacy sports venues have been sites of many international competitions. The Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns was the host site of the ISU World Cup long track speedskating championships on Jan. 26-28, and it welcomed some local residents who are part of the US Speedskating program.

No one enjoyed the home ice more than Jordan Stolz, the 19-year-old phenom who won four gold medals over the three-day event, including setting a new world record in the men’s 1,000 meters. He sailed across the “Fastest Ice on Earth” in a time of 1:05.37, breaking a record that was set four years ago by a German skater on the Kearns surface. Stolz also won the 500 and 1,500 meter men’s events, plus added another first in the second 1,000 meter race held on Sunday.

“I love skating here in front of the home crowd, and this is the best ice surface in the world,” he said following the record-breaking run on Friday. “It’s nice to hear that support for the U.S. team.”

Overall, the Americans won 10 medals on the weekend, including seven gold, and setting another world record in the men’s Team Pursuit. Skaters Casey Dawson, Emery Lehman and Ethan Cepuran reclaimed the world best time they’d lost to Norwegians three weeks earlier. 

Erin Jackson and Kimi Goetz, both of whom live in Kearns, were dominant in their races. Jackson, the defending Olympic champion in the women’s 500, took gold on Saturday, with Goetz taking silver. Goetz also took home silver in the women’s 1,000 meters on Friday, then won gold in the second 1,000 meters race on Sunday. The women’s Team Pursuit team of Brittany Bowe, Mia Mangenello and Giorgia Birkeland won bronze on Saturday.

“We had great performances that included personal bests, many seasonal bests and promotion of skaters to the A divisions,” USS coach Ryan Shimabukuro said. He and long-distance coach Gabriel Girard were high-fiving each other in celebration after the Team Pursuit world record race. He also congratulated Stolz’ coach, Bob Corby, and Goetz’ coach, Mitch Whitmore.

What was particularly impressive about the Kearns events were the crowds. Over 2,000 were in attendance at the Saturday events (Jan. 27), and good-sized crowds were present the other two days as well as at the Four Continents races held the week before.

“Utah loves its speedskating and it supports our winter athletes,” said one official who was working both weekends of events. “It’s not a surprise that many of these skaters from around the world like coming to compete here. We not only have the fastest ice in the world, but also great support for the sport.”

The speedskating season wrapped up Feb. 1-3 with the World Cup 6 races in Quebec, Canada, followed by the World Single Distances Championships in Calgary Feb. 8-10. Then it’s a short break before these athletes, many of whom live in Utah year-round, begin dryland training for the 2025 season, just one year before the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. λ

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