“There is only one country where you have to be a skater”

“There is only one country where you have to be a skater”

Skate star Jordan Stolz (19) will be part of Team Albert Heine Zanlander for the next three seasons. The American world champion in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meters is hoping to get even better with Team Gellert Anima.

Arjan Scottin

It was the sensation of the last world championship distances. Everyone looked on with open mouths at the start of March at Jordan Stolz’s indoor golden corner in the 500m. In addition, he won world titles in the 1000 and 1500 meters. Thus, the shy American teenager broke into the top of the world with seven-mile shoes, as Eric Hayden did almost half a century ago. “This guy can do anything,” said the defeated Keld Noyce with admiration for Stolz. “Where will this progress end?” The battered Thomas Kroll wondered aloud.

Three days after those World Championships, Stolz spoke for the first time with Gellert Anima. At the Zilveren Bal in Leeuwarden, the ski show in Elfstedenhal, the new triple world champion and Frisian champion maker, soon came to the conclusion that a potential collaboration would lead to a win-win situation.

“Gellert has been around for a long time, he’s captained many champions, he’s won Olympic medals. He’s a good guy, I like him. I think he and his team can help me very well,” said Stolz, who signed a contract with Albert Heine Zannlander until the 2026 Milan Games, by phone from the United States.

deeply impressed

Around Easter, Anima visited the Stolz family in West Bend, Wisconsin, to explain his plans. He said there that Anima was deeply influenced by his famous performance in Heerenveen. But one of his concerns is that skateboarding has to be “very careful” with such talent, which is still growing. This message really appealed to Stolz, who received Norway’s Oscar Mathisen this week.

“Gellert has a lot of training information, a lot of knowledge, and a team full of good skaters and mentors. That’s why I think this is the right move for me right now,” says Stolz. For now, he’ll continue training with his trainer, Bob Corby, at the Pettitte National Snow Center in Milwaukee, with remote advice from Anima and his teammates. He will also team up several times a year with the Dutch national team with celebrities such as Erin Schouten and Marijke Groenewood.

“It’s still a little early to fill in all the details of what everything will look like, but I definitely envision a collaboration. The team is full of strong skiers and I hope we can improve on each other. So I will definitely go this way a few times as well. Maybe also to the summer ice in Heerenveen,” says Stolz, who got to know his beloved sport in a completely different way at the sold-out Thielef World Cup.

“That special atmosphere in Heerenveen definitely played a role in my decision, for sure. There is only one country where you have to be a skier, where there is so much knowledge and talent. I can’t think of any other country where I could improve so much.”

“Great timing and control”

He is not the first American to choose to cooperate with the Dutch. Chad Hedrick, his mentor Shani Davis, Heather Bergsma Richardson; All of them preceded Stolz. “This is my own decision, but of course I did consult a few people first,” Stults admits. “They all told me it was the right thing to do now.”

“There is something in him for us, for him, too,” explains Coach Anima. He is sure that skaters can learn a lot from Stolz. “For example, that great timing and control on that inside turn of his in the 500m, on the strongest figure skate in the world. For the Dutch, that’s usually the hardest distance to master, which can be very valuable to us,” So thinks Anima, who also sees a lot of room for improvement in Stolz and has been talking to him about this for hours on the phone.

“His fitness, for one, can be improved. But that’s also the eccentric part of being young, so don’t panic about it. Our number one concern now is that he’ll continue to skate as hard as he does now,” says Anima, who lets Stolz train to pretty much in its own environment.

Potential multi-skilled

“It doesn’t work like this: We’ll take it from here. No, that would be too arrogant. There’s close contact and he’s reaching out at certain times. We’ll see where he can benefit from our training camps, and then he comes. To summer camps, for example, to the weather.” Good in winter, to summer ice in Thialf. We already have some plans, but they are all still very new.”

However, the belief in Stolz’s potential is colossal. “He has fast fibres, but he also knows how to sprint 1,000 and 1,500 metres. If you can do that, you should also be running a strong 5K. It’s not optimal yet. His long distances are not yet at the level of his other distances,” Anima says. . The coach sees the potential of a future multi-level player in America. Stolz also spoke fondly of this non-Olympic discipline in Heerenveen. “First comes realization and belief, so it seems like he already has that,” Anima says.

The American himself also sees it as a challenge to be strong at all distances, but he is well aware that his general fitness still needs to improve significantly. “Because let’s be honest: if I’m going to do my best now, I have to win it at 500 meters and it’s not easy. In terms of stamina, I’m not very talented, so 10,000 will be very difficult,” says Stolz. “All-distance control, it would be crazy if I could manage that.”

A very special case

There is one complicating factor associated with Stolz’s contract with the Dutch commercial team. As of the 2024/2025 season, foreigners are no longer welcome in Dutch teams and in Thialf’s top private sports watch in relation to the KNSB. “I got a little bit of a discussion out of that, yeah,” Stolz replies, undeterred, though. “We just have to try to play around with it a little bit. I think the fact that we all make each other better is also part of the collaboration.”

Coach Anima, who has often worked with foreigners, firmly believes that Dutch talents will also benefit from this cooperation. “And if you actually see it, I appreciate that KNSB will also see it for itself. This is a very special case, so I think we will work it out with good consultation.”

Jordan Stolz and Gellert Anima.Zaanlander’s photo

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