Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Wörther See

Wörther See is a biggish lake roughly the size, and shape, of Hurdalssjøen in Norway, Fluessen in the Netherlands and Bear Lake in Utah, USA. One of the first things Martin Sæterhaug and the two Mathisen brothers did a hundred years ago today was to go down and test it, the venue of the 1908 European Championship in speedskating. They (probably) slept till after dawn and missed the breakfast, but were able to secure a hearty meal in the bar.

The lake was a brisk 3.5 km walk to the west of the little town, but the skaters preferred to skate them on a canal linking the lake to the little river running through the east side of the town. A sizeable track was marked on the lake ice, using as lane markers some round little wooden pegs, frozen into the ice. The Norwegians, accustomed as they were to the snowstrings back home, raised their eyebrows a little at this arrangement, but otherwise didn’t care much about it. Hitting the pegs of course could lead to some nasty falls, but you didn’t exactly aim for them, did you?

The Norwegians now had three days to prepare for the championship. They were the last participants to arrive. To prepare optimally for the defense of his European championship from the year before, Moje Öholm had gone to Davos nearly four weeks earlier and arrived from there to Klagenfurt (probably) before the weekend. The two Finns, Arne Schrey and John Wikander (using the old spelling), had skipped the Finnish championship and arrived here some days before the Norwegians as well. The best skaters from that championship were on their way direct to Davos. In addition, several skaters from the Empire were present, the well-experienced Schilling from Vienna, and Thomas Bohrer, a new, promising talent raised here in Klagenfurt, as well as a number of Hungarians and the Bohemian Myslbeck.

Oscar and his companions still felt tired after their arduous journey, and especially his brother Sigurd didn’t feel at all too well. Still the tingling of expectation was with them, and it would increase as the racing days were approaching.