Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Davos is paradise

A hundred years ago today, the participants of the 16th World Championship in Speedskating were having another day in paradise. The ice surface of Davos defied comparison to the rough harbour ice of Helsingfors, Wiborg or Stockholm, it seemed a different material altogether. Even the well-prepared ice at Frogner couldn’t compare, plagued as it often was with fogs, thaws and other bothersome phenomenons. The ice was perfect. And even more perfect was the environment around it. The weather was unstoppably fine it seemed, and the scenery around the two villages was stunning. The hosts at the hotel and the club were as perfect as the ice, and all the worries from home—making a living, deferring to your boss, getting food on the table, heating the house, were forgotten, shoved into a filthy closet at the back of the head. Most striking of all was the freshness of the air. What a contrast to the city smells of Vaterland, Kristiania!

The rink closed in the afternoon for a dining break. Again the Norwegians ordered beer to their food, and glancing around the hall they noted more or less consciously that there were hardly any milk- drinkers left among the skaters. After dinner the skaters went out to the rink again, or perhaps they, or some of them, relaxed a little, strolling around the village to look at the various hotels and sanatoriums, maybe they even stopped to have a chat with Hans Castorp and Settembrini, who knows?

The crescent Moon hung high in the southeast as darkness was falling after 6 o’clock, and skaters left the rink for indoor activities again—some card playing, some reading perhaps, some letter or telegram writing—yes, maybe some smoking as well. The championship had drawn nearer by yet another day.