The 2019 Long Track Junior Development Skaters of the Year

April 29, 2019, 1:22 p.m. (ET)

US Speedskating presents the two skaters recognized as the 2019 Long Track Junior Development Skaters of the Year. Skaters were selected by US Speedskating's High Performance Department based on age, improvement and results from the season.

Congratulations to Jia Griffiths and Jordan Stolz!

Name: Jia Griffiths

Age: 15

Club: Midway Speedskating Club

Coach: Andrey Zhuikov

Who inspires you in speedskating? My coach, Andrey, and teammates in Midway always drive me to work harder and skate faster.

Where will you be in ten years? I believe the future is full of countless possibilities, and although I’m very unsure of what the next ten years may hold, I sincerely hope speedskating will be a part of it.

What other sports do you play? As of now, speedskating is my main focus. However, in the past, I participated in a plethora of sports. Those of which include: figure skating, soccer, basketball, tennis, karate, and most recently I’ve enjoyed volleyball.

What are your other hobbies? Music is my favorite pastime. I’ve found that I can pick up stringed instruments rather quickly. Over the years I’ve successfully been able to learn how to play the guitar, cello, bass guitar, and ukulele. As far as sports go, I really enjoy playing volleyball in the off season. It’s a newer sport for me, but it’s quickly become one of my favorites.

How did you get involved in speedskating? I’ve grown up in a “skating family”. In other words, everybody in my family has done some form of ice sport at some point in their lives. It all started with my grandmother, a pairs skater in the ‘52 Olympic Games. I, like everybody else in my family, started off in figure skating alongside my sister. However, coaches were always telling me to “slow down” or “be more patient.” After my open rebellion to figure skating, at the age of six, my mother decided to throw me into the lion’s den with a bunch of speedskaters to see how I’d fare. Not long after, I became addicted to the concept of “skate as fast as you can.”

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment? My greatest accomplishment to date was winning gold for Long Track Jr. Nationals at Lake Placid (Junior C division). I came into the race weekend not feeling too confident about my recent times. My wavering confidence paired with a bundle of nerves left me with some pretty low expectation. Despite this, I came out of the weekend pleasantly surprised by the results. Though I’m sure the cancelation of the mass start (in sub-zero temperatures and the beginnings of a snow storm) was also a prominent factor in my happiness.

What is your favorite subject in school? My favorite subject in school would have to be Spanish. Having formerly attended a Chinese immersion lower/middle school, Spanish is a whole new world to me. And although I hope to always keep the Chinese language in my life, I’ve really taken a liking to Spanish. I’ve found it particularly enjoyable given the fact that we live in a country so immersed in a multitude of Latin American cultures.

What are your goals for speedskating in the next few years? I’d love to make it onto the Long Track Junior World Team, and participate in the Junior World Championships. We’ll see where it goes from there.

What is your favorite exercise during dryland training? My favorite dryland exercise would have to be inlining… when I’m not falling. Inline speedskating terrifies me beyond compare to most other exercises. Even so, there’s something about finishing a Saturday morning distance inline workout that gives me such an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Plus, It’s also a great alternative to any running workout.

What’s your favorite post-race snack? My go-to post-race snack is anything sweet with sugar in it. Solely for the nutritional value of restocking muscle-glycogen stores… of course!

Where is your favorite place to race? My favorite place to race is the Pettit in Milwaukee. It’s not the fastest ice in the world, but I’ve always seen it akin to my home rink, the John Rose Oval. It’s a low-pressure environment where I’ve grown to have an almost home-like familiarity.

What’s your craziest hidden talent? I think it’s pretty unusual that I can do the wave with my eyebrows and independently move my ears.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Two months ago, I underwent knee surgery at Mayo to repair a complex radial tear in my lateral meniscus. Since the surgery, any form of physical activity has come to an abrupt stop, and I’ve been forced to stall my skating career. However, I’m looking to make a full recovery and hopeful to return to skating stronger than ever. The recovery journey has been difficult, and I’d like to thank my teammates for words of encouragement. Additionally, I’d like to thank my family for endless support, both physically and mentally.

Name: Jordan Stolz

Age: 14

Club: WSSC Wisconsin Speedskating Club

Coach:  Shani Davis, (WSSC) Mike Witty

Who inspires you in Speedskating?  Five time Olympian, 2-time former world record holder, my coach Shani Davis.  He made the Short Track Olympic team and multiple Long Track Olympic teams.

Where will I be in ten years?   Hopefully making World and Olympic teams.

What other sports do you play?  I train and race in cycle road racing for off season cross training. I do not do any other sports not helpful to Speed skating.

What are your other hobbies?  Motocross, cycling, fishing, and archery hunting.

How did you get involved in Speedskating?  I got involved in Speedskating after watching Apolo Ohno in the 2010 Olympics.  I thought it was so cool, how fast he was, with his amazing passes at such high speeds.  My sister and I asked my parents if we could try speed skating.  So they bought my sister and I some skates. My dad shoveled a track on our frozen pond. I thought the ice was too slippery and didn’t like it at first, but got used to it. After Learn to Skate at the Pettit, we joined the Badger Speed Skating Club, then on to the West Allis Speedskating Club. 

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment? Winning the U.S. Age Group LT National Championships 5 times, and making the qualifying time for the Olympic trials.

What is your favorite subject in school? Science.

What are your goals for speed skating in the next few years? Making the Long Track Junior World Team, World Cup teams, and  hopefully the 2022 Beijing Olympics Team.  I would also like to make these same teams in Short Track.

What is your favorite exercise during dryland training?  Shani’s “punishment” exercise, which is 8 minute up down statics.

What’s your favorite post-race snack? Pasta, rice, meats. I usually I go to a Chinese buffet, so I can eat   as I can, so I’m ready for the next day if it is  a 2 to 3 day meet.

Where is your favorite place to race? Calgary is my favorite place to race.  The ice is very fast and the tighter turns make it easier to build speed.  I also enjoy the food court so close to go and eat after the races! I have not been to Salt Lake yet to skate, but I also like racing at the Pettit, it just doesn’t have the food selection.  

What’s your craziest hidden talent? I can do the wave with my stomach muscles, my mom says it looks creepy!