Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Alpine sunshine

A hundred years ago, the skaters in Davos were enjoying a string of fine winter days. It looked really promising for the upcoming World Championship. The conditions at the European championships the last few years weren’t as perfect as in 1898 or 1902, for example, or at the international races in 1900. Often the Sun was too strong in the afternoon, and while the 500 m results were excellent, the longer distances suffered. This is why the club had concentrated on arranging European championships lately, because those traditionally preceded the world championships, and the Sun would be weaker. But it didn’t help anyway, so why not try a world championship for a change? So far at least, it looked really promising.

Old people complained that the winters weren’t as cold as they used to be. There were guests at the hotels in Davos who remembered when they flooded the Rue Pergolese in Paris and the whole city was skating. But the young championship skaters on the rink didn’t worry. They just skated their laps and enjoyed the sunshine and the famous shining white ice that allowed them to glide laps on end almost without effort. It was a paradise for a skater. Today the sky was all-blue and the calm perfect. The smoke from the coal-fires in the homes and hotels drew straight lines up into the air before they vanished perfectly into the blue.

At the dinner today, the Norwegians ordered beer again. And this time a few of the others did the same, to the consternation of the remaining milk-drinkers. How could they forget their physical education so easily? A healthy soul in a healthy body, that’s what this was all about. And of course, everyone knew that milk was the healthiest thing you could drink.

Another day of skating in the skating-paradise was over, and a slight moon was hanging over the western mountains as the last skaters left the rink. Bohrer and Schilling had arrived now, the last participants from Klagenfurt, and the World Championship field was complete. At last, night fell, and the skaters went into their beds to dream their various dreams.