Johann Olav Koss

Johann Olav Koss 1994

Johann Olav Koss, born October 29 1968 in Drammen, won three gold medals at 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer with world records in the 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m. This achievement brought speed skating to the interest of people all over the world. Sports Illustrated magazine named him “Sportsman of the Year”. His world records lasted until the introduction of the “clap skate”, which boosted speed skating results to new records.


On February 20th, 1994, Johann Olav Koss had the highlight of a great speed skating career. He won the 10,000-m race in the Winter Olympics at Hamar, Norway. He beat his own world record set in Heerenveen with almost 13 seconds to 13 minutes and 30.55 seconds. This was already his third world record in eight days. He improved the world best time for the 5000 m to 6 min 34.96 sec and the 1500 m to 1 min 51.29 sec.

The 10,000 m was without doubt the most impressive world record of the three. “I had hoped to beat the world record, but never dreamed I would do it by so much. It took quite a while afterwards to understand fully what I had achieved.” He said about his race. His openings laps “actually scared me a bit. (…) I did not conscientiously use extra power at the outset. I was just gliding. It was fantastic.” The 12000 supporters in the sold out arena including Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon Magnus, helped him to reach that extraordinary level. “It’s only once in a lifetime that you experience such an atmosphere, such good ice and, at the same time, be in such good form,” said Koss.


Besides the gold medals with world records in the 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m at the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, he also won 1,500m gold and 10,000m silver in 1992 Games in Albertville. Other major achievements included three overall world championship titles–in 1990, 1991, and 1994. Koss could not be recognized as such future sports hero in his younger years. In 1987 he became a national junior champion speedskating, but he could not compete with the top skaters in the 1986 and 1987 World Junior Championships. At his debute with the seniors at the World Championships in Medeo 1988, he failed to qualify for the final distance. In 1989 he finished 15th in the European Championship, but he finished 8th in the World Tournament that same year. In 1990 he broke through at the World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, which he won. He would remain at the top of world by winning the World Championship again in 1991 and 1994 and finishing 2nd in 1993 and 3rd in 1992. He won the European Championships in 1991 and finished 3rd in the next three editions.


After his career, he not only became chairman of Olympic Aid, but he also became a UNICEF ambassador and a member of the International Olympic Committee (until 2002). He married Canadian businessperson and politician Belinda Stronach on December 31, 1999, but they divorced in 2004.

Johann Olav Koss 2007

In May 2009 Johann Olav Koss married Jennifer Lee, who describes herself as a Juilliard-trained cellist and graduate of the universities of Harvard and Oxford and Harvard Business School. She’s the co-founder of They have two children together: Aksel and Annabelle.

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  1. Hi Johan, the ‘Elfstedentocht’ is coming again in the Netherlands. Will you join it for the second time? Would be fun…

  2. Hy Johan the rayon mannegers of the elfstedentocht are having a meeting tonight can we count you in if it goes on?!! I think this week or next week!! See you in Leeuwarden!! Kind regards Nico Noort

  3. Hi Bart, please be aware that this is a fan page, not Mr Koss his official website, so please find another way to contact him. Good luck with your event!

  4. Dear Mr Koss,
    I would like to invite you to give an inspirational speech at a management meeting in Oslo on Thursday the 23rd of February 2012. Around 200 people will attend.

    Would you be so kind as to inform us whether you want to tell the management of Airplus (a daughter of Lufthansa) about developping Talent? And could you tell me what your fee is for such a presentation?

    Best Regards,
    Bart Verhaagen

  5. Dear Mr. Koss,

    I am a big fan of you and your career. Therefore I have written before about a year a letter to get an autograph with an original signature. I’ve been waiting so long, but to date no letter has arrived.

    Perhaps you could send me in this way an autograph? You would make me very happy.

    Thanks in advance and you well.

    Yours sincerely,
    Lars Weber

  6. hello
    i’m from canada and i just want to tell you that what you are doing is amazing. im doing a project on you. i am a short track speed skater and i would like to try long traking

  7. Dear Mr. Koss,

    I saw you in Ain al-Hilweh a couple of days ago.
    We from Sumud really enjoyed the party in the UNRWA-school!
    Right now I am planing to run a football project in the refugee camp.
    I am looking forward to hearing from you, perhaps there is possibility to work together somehow.


  8. Does anybody know whether the book the Effect of Johann is also published in English? I would love to have it!

  9. Hi Johann,

    Saw you on dutch TV this night. Is was a programm about the Elfstedentocht, way back in 1997. Nice to see, that you enjoyed the 200km tour.

    By the way, what a beautiful country you live in!

    Best regards,

    – Wilfred Smit –

  10. hello i`m lovisa koss my dad is robert koss i believe you know him. we live in sweden, in skellefteå. =)

  11. Congratulation!
    When you had been winnning in Olimpic game it amazed me.I was fascinated your 3 gold medals and 3 world rekords.
    It was great.
    By the way it was 14 years ago but it was the best I had ever seen in Winter Olimpic game- speedskater ompetition with you was unbelievible.
    I am misionary may be I could see you during special situation.
    Thank you God for such good sportsmen.

    Best regards.
    I wish you the best achivements in your future.
    Łukasz Bieroński.

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