Johann Olav Koss

Johann Olav Koss, CM OLY (born 29 October 1968) is a former speed skater from Norway. He won four Olympic gold medals, including three at the 1994 Winter Olympics in his home country. He resides in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Johann Olav Koss
JohannKoss cropped 72dpi 2013
Personal information
Born29 October 1968 (age 50)
Drammen, Norway
Height1.89 m (6 ft 2 12 in)
SportSpeed skating
Turned pro1986
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)500 m: 37.98 (1994)
1000 m: 1:14.9 (1993)
1500 m: 1:51.29 (1994)
3000 m: 3:57.52 (1990)
5000 m: 6:34.96 (1994)
10 000 m: 13:30.55 (1994)


Johann Olav Koss was born in Drammen, Buskerud County, Norway. Johann Olav Koss became the Norwegian Junior Champion in 1987, but he could not compete with the world top skaters in the 1986 and 1987 World Junior Championships. In 1988, he debuted with the seniors at the World Championships in Alma-Ata, but failed to qualify for the final distance. The following year, he finished eighth in the same tournament (after a fifteenth place in the European Allround Championships), placing second on the 1,500 m. His breakthrough came in 1990, winning the World Allround Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. The following four years, he would win two more world titles (1991 and 1994), while finishing second in 1993 and third in 1992. He won the European Allround Championships in 1991 and finished second in the next three editions. Koss had a total of twenty-three World Cup wins, while winning four overall World Cup titles (the 1,500 m in 1990 and 1991, and the combined 5,000/10,000 m in 1991 and 1994).

Koss made his Olympic debut at the 1992 Winter Olympics, finishing seventh on the 5,000 m, five days after undergoing surgery because of an inflamed pancreas. He would recover to win gold on the 1,500 m (by only 0.04 seconds over his countryman Ådne Søndrål) and silver on the 10,000 m (behind Dutch skater Bart Veldkamp).

In 1994, the final year of his speed skating career, Koss also gained fame outside the speed skating world by winning three gold medals at the 1994 Winter Olympics in his native Norway, winning all races in new world records, two of which would remain unbeaten until the clap skate era. For his performance, he was named Sports Illustrated magazine's Sportsman of the Year in 1994, together with Bonnie Blair. In addition, he received the Oscar Mathisen Award three times: in 1990, 1991, and 1994.

After his speed skating career, Koss trained as a physician at the University of Queensland in Australia.[1] He became a UNICEF ambassador and a member of the International Olympic Committee (until 2002). He married Canadian businessperson and politician Belinda Stronach on 31 December 1999, but they divorced in 2003.

in 2000, Koss founded the Canadian-based International Humanitarian Organisation, Right To Play, which uses sport and play as a tool for the development of children and youth in the most disadvantaged areas of the world. The organization operates in more than 20 countries reaching over one million children each week and is supported by more than 620 staff worldwide and over 14,900 volunteer Coaches.[2] In August 2015, Koss transitioned in to the role of Founder at Right To Play where he still stays very active in a variety of fundraising initiatives, and where he maintains his seat on the International Board of Directors.[2]

He married his second wife, Jennifer Lee, in New York on 23 May 2009. Lee's friend Chelsea Clinton was one of the bridesmaids.[3] Lee is a Harvard College, Oxford University and Harvard Business School graduate, and a former cellist who studied at The Juilliard School. She is the granddaughter of Kim Chung Yul,[4] the former Prime Minister of South Korea and Chief of the Korean Armed Forces during the Korean War. She is the Co-Founder of a retail business called BRIKA which sells products from under-the-radar artisans and makers.[5] She is a former management consultant and most recently a private equity investment professional at Ontario Teachers' Private Capital in Toronto. They have four children together, Aksel, Annabelle, Andreas and Aleksander.

In November 2009, after American Peter Mueller was stripped of his coaching role with Norway for an inappropriate comment to a female team member, Koss was appointed head coach, despite no previous coaching experience. Association sporting director Oystein Haugen told Reuters that Koss has been a revelation despite no previous coaching experience.[6]

Koss completed his Executive MBA at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management in the University of Toronto in Canada. He has Honorary Doctorates from several universities - Brock University, University of Calgary, Vrije Universiteit Brussels, and the University of Agder in Norway.[2] On 1 July 2015, Koss was made an honorary Member of the Order of Canada.[7]

At the 2018 Olympic Games Koss was inducted into the Olympians for Life project for using sport to make a better world.[8]


An overview of medals won by Koss at important championships he participated in, listing the years in which he won each:

Championships Gold medal Silver medal Bronze medal
Winter Olympics 1992 (1,500 m)
1994 (1,500 m)
1994 (5,000 m)
1994 (10,000 m)
1992 (10,000 m)
World Allround 1990
1993 1992
World Cup 1990 (1,500 m)
1991 (1,500 m)
1991 (5,000 m / 10,000 m)
1994 (5,000 m / 10,000 m)
1992 (1,500 m)
1992 (5,000 m / 10,000 m)
1993 (5,000 m / 10,000 m)
1990 (5,000 m / 10,000 m)
European Allround 1991 1992
Norwegian Allround 1991
Norwegian Single Distance 1989 (1,500 m)
1989 (5,000 m)
1990 (1,500 m)
1990 (5,000 m)
1990 (10,000 m)
1991 (1,500 m)
1991 (5,000 m)
1991 (10,000 m)
1993 (1,000 m)
1993 (5,000 m)
1994 (1,500 m)
1989 (1,000 m)
1990 (1,000 m)
1992 (1,000 m)
1992 (5,000 m)
1988 (10,000 m)
1991 (1,000 m)
1992 (1,500 m)
1994 (5,000 m)
Norwegian Marathon 1988


World records

Koss skated ten world records:

Event Time Date Venue
3000 m 3.57,52 13 March 1990 Heerenveen
5000 m 6.41,73 9 February 1991 Heerenveen
10,000 m 13.43,54 10 February 1991 Heerenveen
Big combination 157.396 10 February 1991 Heerenveen
5000 m 6.38,77 22 January 1993 Heerenveen
5000 m 6.36,57 13 March 1993 Heerenveen
5000 m 6.35,53 4 December 1993 Hamar
5000 m 6.34,96 13 February 1994 Hamar
1500 m 1.51,29 16 February 1994 Hamar
10,000 m 13.30,55 20 February 1994 Hamar


Personal records

To put these personal records in perspective, the WR column lists the official world records on the dates that Koss skated his personal records.

Event Result Date Venue WR
500 m 37.98 7 January 1994 Hamar 35.92
1,000 m 1:14.9  10 January 1993 Hamar 1:12.58
1,500 m 1:51.29 16 February 1994 Hamar 1:51.60
3,000 m 3:57.52 13 March 1990 Heerenveen 3:59.27
5,000 m 6:34.96 13 February 1994 Hamar 6:35.53
10,000 m 13:30.55 20 February 1994 Hamar 13:43.54
Big combination 157.257 9 January 1994 Hamar 156.882


Koss was number one on the Adelskalender, the all-time allround speed skating ranking, for a total of 1,998 days, divided over three periods between 1992 and 1997. He has an Adelskalender score of 155.099 points.

See also


  1. ^ "Olympians at UQ" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "People". Retrieved 2016-08-02.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2009-05-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Kim Chung Yul, 75, South Korean Premier". 9 September 1992. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  5. ^ "BRIKA - A Well-Crafted Life". Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Olympics 2018". Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  7. ^ "The Governor General of Canada". Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Johann Olav Koss". Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Johann Olav Koss". Retrieved 29 August 2012.

Other sources

  • Eng, Trond. All Time International Championships, Complete Results: 1889 - 2002. Askim, Norway: WSSSA-Skøytenytt, 2002.
  • Eng, Trond; Gjerde, Arild and Teigen, Magne. Norsk Skøytestatistikk Gjennom Tidene, Menn/Kvinner, 1999 (6. utgave). Askim/Skedsmokorset/Veggli, Norway: WSSSA-Skøytenytt, 1999.
  • Eng, Trond; Gjerde, Arild; Teigen, Magne and Teigen, Thorleiv. Norsk Skøytestatistikk Gjennom Tidene, Menn/Kvinner, 2004 (7. utgave). Askim/Skedsmokorset/Veggli/Hokksund, Norway: WSSSA-Skøytenytt, 2004.
  • Eng, Trond and Teigen, Magne. Komplette Resultater fra offisielle Norske Mesterskap på skøyter, 1894 - 2005. Askim/Veggli, Norway: WSSSA-Skøytenytt, 2005.
  • Teigen, Magne. Komplette Resultater Norske Mesterskap På Skøyter, 1887 - 1989: Menn/Kvinner, Senior/Junior. Veggli, Norway: WSSSA-Skøytenytt, 1989.
  • Teigen, Magne. Komplette Resultater Internasjonale Mesterskap 1889 - 1989: Menn/Kvinner, Senior/Junior, allround/sprint. Veggli, Norway: WSSSA-Skøytenytt, 1989.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Netherlands Leo Visser
Oscar Mathisen Award
Succeeded by
United States Bonnie Blair
Preceded by
Netherlands Falko Zandstra
Oscar Mathisen Award
Succeeded by
Germany Gunda Niemann
Preceded by
Spain Miguel Indurain
United Press International
Athlete of the Year

Succeeded by
United Kingdom Jonathan Edwards
Preceded by
Norway Atle Skårdal
Norwegian Sportsperson of the Year
Succeeded by
Norway Vegard Ulvang
Preceded by
Norway Norway national football team
Norwegian Sportsperson of the Year
Succeeded by
Norway Bjørn Dæhlie
Ids Postma

Ids Hylke Postma (born 28 December 1973) is a Dutch former speed skater. He is an Olympic gold medalist and former world champion.

In 1993 Postma finished 2nd at the Speedskating World Championships for Juniors. In his first year as senior skater, he became Dutch Allround Champion, finished second behind Johann Olav Koss at the World Allround Championships, and came 4th in the European Championships, but nevertheless did not qualify for the Dutch Olympic team. In 1997 Postma won both the European Allround Championships and the World Allround Championships.His greatest success came in 1998 when he became World Allround Champion again, also setting a world record in the point-sum combination, and won two Olympic medals at the Olympic Games in Nagano. He won the 1,000 meters event and placed second at his specialty, the 1,500 meters, just behind Ådne Søndrål from Norway. Also in 1998, he was the first skater who skated an official world record on the 1,500 meters below 1:50.00: Postma did this in Berlin. Erben Wennemars had done the same the summer before, but that time was not ratified by the International Skating Union. Postma's record did not last long, because a few hours later Kevin Overland skated to a new record in Calgary.Postma is also a three-time World Champion in the World Single Distance Championships. He won the 5,000 meters in 1996 and the 1,500 meters in 1999 and 2000.

In October 2004 Postma announced his retirement and nowadays he lives on his farm in Deersum. He married German speed skater Anni Friesinger on 11 August 2009 in Salzburg. The couple will not live together on the farm until renovations are complete. In August 2011, she gave birth to a daughter. He previously had a relationship with Renske Vellinga, until she died in a car crash in 1994.

Jarle Pedersen

Jarle Pedersen (born 15 June 1955) is a retired Norwegian speed skater and the current coach of the Norwegian speed skating team. He is from Kåfjord in Alta, Finnmark, but resides in Os outside Bergen.Pedersen competed in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid and finished 6th on the 500 m. On 25 November 2009 he became the head coach of the Norwegian Speed skating team following Peter Mueller. Johann Olav Koss became his assistant. He has been a speed skating coach in the local team Fana IL. In Fana he was the coach for his son Sverre Lunde Pedersen. They are being reunited on the national team since the son joined the team before the 2009/2010 winter season. Pedersen is educated as a Physical therapist and had that role in the Norwegian Olympic team under the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.

Kjell Storelid

Kjell Storelid (born 24 October 1970) is a former speed skater from Norway. Storelid's best achievement on the ice was two silver medals on 5,000 m and 10,000 m at the Winter Olympics 1994 in Lillehammer - behind Johann Olav Koss. In the two next Olympic games Storelid came 5th and 8th on 10,000 m. Even though Storelid was a typical long distance racer, he has a 6th place in the World Championships and a 5th place from the European Championships. He has won one Norwegian championship - 5,000 m in 2000.

Leo Visser

Leendert "Leo" Visser (born 13 January 1966) is a Dutch former speed skater, who in 1989 won the World Allround championships and European championships.At the 1988 Olympics in Calgary he won a silver medal in the 5000 m and a bronze medal in the 10 000 meter. Four years later, at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, Visser won a bronze medal in both the 1,500 and the 5,000 metres, behind Norwegians Johann Olav Koss and Geir Karlstad.Nationally, he won the allround titles in 1988, 1989 and 1991, as well as four distance titles.After his career as a speed skater, Visser became a pilot and he is now captain on the Boeing 777 for Dutch airline KLM. In 2002, he was the chef de mission for the Dutch Olympic team. His wife, Sandra Voetelink, is also a former Olympic speed skater.

MOT (charity)

MOT is a Norwegian organization formed to combat youth violence and drug use. In Norwegian the word mot is a homonym, meaning both courage and against.

The organization was originally started as Norske toppidrettsutøvere mot Narkotika (en: Norwegian elite athletes against Narcotics) by Johann Olav Koss, Atle Vårvik and Bjørn Dæhlie in 1994. It sold calendars through schools and youth sport teams. In 1996 it was formed officially and changed its name to MOT. Currently, most of the Norwegian Premier League teams play with the MOT logo on their shirts.

Norway at the 1992 Winter Olympics

Norway competed at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.

Norway at the 1994 Winter Olympics

Norway was the host nation for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. It was the second time that Norway had hosted the Winter Olympic Games, after the 1952 Games in Oslo. In 1994, Norway finished second in the medal ranking to Russia, with strong results in the skiing events.

During the games, Norway set a record: most gold medals won by a host nation, with 10. The United States tied it when they hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, but Canada broke it during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Norwegian Allround Championships

The Norwegian Allround Championships are organized by the Norges Skøyteforbund (Norwegian Skating Association).

Olaf Zinke

Olaf Zinke (born 9 October 1966) is a former speed skater.

Zinke specialised in the 1,000 metres and 1,500 metres distances. In 1990, at a World Cup race in Helsinki he proved his skill at top level for the first time, finishing first in the 1,500 metres leaving Johann Olav Koss and Michael Hadschieff behind him, and the next day he won the 1,000 metres by outpacing Dan Jansen and Eric Flaim. He peaked again at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville. Leaving the Korean Kim Yoon-man behind by 0.01 seconds, Zinke won the 1,000 metres race and thereby the Olympic gold medal.

Oscar Mathisen Award

Since 1959, the Oscar Mathisen Award (also known as the Oscar Mathisen Memorial Award, the Oscar Mathisen Memorial Trophy, and sometimes the Skating Oscar) is awarded annually for outstanding speed skating performance of the season. The award was introduced by Oslo Skøiteklub (Oslo Skating Club, OSK) to commemorate the legendary Norwegian speed skater Oscar Mathisen (1888–1954).

Until 1967, speed skaters could not win the award more than once and until 1987, women were not eligible to win the award.

The winner is awarded a miniature of the statue of Oscar Mathisen created by the sculptor Arne Durban. The statue is placed outside Frogner Stadium in Oslo, the venue of many of Oscar Mathisen's most memorable victories.

Right To Play

Right To Play is a global organization that attempts to teach children in need with educational games. It was founded in 2000 by Olympic gold medalist Johann Olav Koss. Right To Play's programs are facilitated by more than 14,900 local volunteer coaches and more than 620 international staff.

Working in both the humanitarian and development context, Right To Play builds local capacity by training community leaders as coaches to deliver its programs in 18 countries affected by war, poverty, and disease in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. Right To Play is headquartered in Toronto, Canada and has national offices in Canada, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The national offices raise funds, build awareness for Right To Play programs and advocate for play based learning.

Speed skating at the 1992 Winter Olympics – Men's 10,000 metres

The men's 10,000 metres in speed skating at the 1992 Winter Olympics took place on 20 February, at the L'anneau de vitesse.

30 competitors from 14 nations participated in the event.

Speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics

Speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics, was held from 13 February to 25 February. Ten events were contested at Hamar Olympic Hall.

Speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics – Men's 10,000 metres

The men's 10,000 metres in speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics took place on 20 February, at the Hamar Olympic Hall.

16 competitors from 10 nations participated in the event.

Speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics – Men's 1500 metres

The men's 1500 metres in speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics took place on 12 February, at the Hamar Olympic Hall.

Speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics – Men's 5000 metres

The men's 5000 metres in speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics took place on 13 February, at the Hamar Olympic Hall.


Thialf is an ice arena in Heerenveen, Netherlands. The stadium is used for long track speed skating, short track speed skating, ice hockey, figure skating, ice speedway, and non-sports events. The outdoor rink was opened in 1967, and the indoor stadium was opened in 1986. Several world records were set in the indoor stadium. Annually, Thialf hosts two Speed Skating World Cup events. The arena has a capacity of 12,500 seats. Jan de Jong was the ice rink master at Thialf for many years.

World Allround Speed Skating Championships for Men

The International Skating Union has organised the World Allround Speed Skating Championships for Men since 1893. Unofficial Championships were held in the years 1889–1892.

Leaders of the Adelskalender, men

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