Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

First races!

I don’t have as much information about the races at Klagenfurt as I would have wanted. My only source for any details apart from the results is the historical article in Skøyteboka 1996/97, because Oscar does not tell much about them. I could perhaps have contacted the author of the article, who must have had some sources. He’s not named, but a good guess might be Espeli. If anyone of you have anything to add, or subtract, please feel free.

Anyhow, a hundred years ago today, the races for the 16th European championship started in (seemingly) pleasant weather and good ice conditions. A substantial crowd (surely) had made their way down from the town to see their local boy Bohrer fight for the championship. In a remarkable stroke of luck, he had been drawn against his supposed main rival Öholm in the first distance.

(Possibly) the first to start was the Hungarian Gyurman and the Finnish debutant Schrey. Schrey’s time of 50 flat with the Hungarian one second behind was good, but better was expected. (Possibly) already in the next pair, Öholm and Bohrer were ready on the line. (Probably) the Swede had the fastest start, but the home favourite (possibly) drew nearer on the back straight and at the end was only 1 fifth behind Öholm, who clocked 47 flat, a remarkably good time (as the lowland best list at the time was Sigurd Mathisen 46,0, Gundersen, Sinnerud, Wathén and Sæterhaug 46,2, Østlund 46,4, Schwartz 46,6, Mauseth, Næss, Bye, Öholm himself and Strömsten 46,8).

In the third pair, (possibly) the lowland record holder beat the Wiener Schilling with a wide margin, but clocked only 48,2. The 4th pair (possibly) featured two good sprinters, the Hungarian Manno and Wikander (using the old spelling). This (if it happened) was a close race, too, with the Finn coming out on top. But his time could not match Öholm’s and only was enough to equal Bohrer. Manno was 2 fifths behind. (Possibly) In the 5th pair the Norwegian teenager Mathisen (might have) met the Bohemian Myslbeck, whom he swiftly outskated. Mathisen skated the 500 m of his young life and set a pb, but couldn’t touch the time of Öholm, though he too came close at 47,2. Myslbeck fell and didn’t finish. (Possibly) the last hope for beating the Swede was Sæterhaug in the last pair, but like the lowland record holder he seemed indisposed after his gruelling journey and only managed to equal Oscar’s brother.

Thus Öholm topped the standings after the first distance with 1 place number point, followed by Bohrer, Wikander and Oscar Mathisen, all at 3, then Manno 5, Sigurd Mathisen and Sæterhaug 6.5, Schrey 8, Wampetics 9, Gyurman 10 and Schilling 11. Öholm was on his way to prove his point.

Before the 5000 m, the lowland best times on the distance were as follows: Eden 8.37,6 Halvorsen 8.39,6 Østlund 8.57,0 Wathén 8.58,0 Oscar Mathisen 8.59,0 Petersen 9.00,6 Steen 9.00,8 Engelsaas 9.02,8 Fredriksen 9.04,2 Sinnerud 9.07,8 Wiklund 9.08,0 Schwartz and Strömsten 9.08,2, Wiinikainen 9.08,6. It is discernable from this list that 5000 m skating skills had deteriorated markedly since 1894.

(I am imagining that) the Viennese veteran Franz Schilling won the first pair in 9.25,8, just 8 seconds behind his Davos pb. In the next pair, (possibly) Sæterhaug (probably) was paired with Manno, who fell early and gave up, requiring the Trønder to finish the race all by himself, which he did well in 9.15,6, a new personal best time. Öholm, the winner of the 500 m, could have had three possible pairmates in the next distance, but the Eislaufverein Wörthersee (www.evw.at) again had the stroke of luck to see their man Bohrer drawn against him. In the (possibly) third pair the two met again and fought another close battle. Lap by lap they challenged each other, or perhaps one took the lead and another waited for the right time to attack. The attack was successful, or it failed, depending on who of Öholm and Bohrer it was who had been trailing, because the Swede prevailed again and now had gained a considerable advantage for the championship. But it was close, 9.01,2 and 9.02,6, new pbs for both, and 8th and 9th places on the all-time 5000 m lowland list.

The next ones to skate were (possibly) Oscar Mathisen and John Wikander. But the Finn had dropped out and didn’t appear on the starting line. So Oscar too had to skate alone. And well did he skate, so he was hopeful as he waited for the time to be announced. “Neun Minuten, sieben Sekunden und drei Fünftel,” the announcer said. That was pretty good. He was happy. Still, he thought, the championship looked outside his reach. Almost outside his reach.

His brother (possibly) skated next, (probably) against the Hungarian Wampetics, who was soon left behind. But Sigurd’s time was only 9.29,0. Evidently the privilege of the benches hadn’t helped the senior members of the team. Oscar, who had slept on the floor as they penetrated into the heart of Europe, seemed to have recuperated best from their travel hardships.

Schrey in (possibly) the last pair clocked 9.22,0, and so, with Wikander and Manno eliminated, the positions were: Öholm 2, Bohrer 4.5, Oscar Mathisen 5.5, Sæterhaug 9.5, Schrey 12, Sigurd Mathisen 12.5, Schilling 15, Gyurman and Wampetics 16.

Licking their wounds or rejoicing in their successes, the skaters went to bed after (probably) a hearty banquet at the expense of the Eislauf Verein.

Meanwhile, in Lisbon, an empire had lost its king. But a new one was ready to step up in his place.