Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Outlooks in Davos

A hundred years ago today in Davos, the skaters trained but lightly as the championship was due to start the next day. A number of spectators spent some time watching them, mostly guests from the hotels, some sanatorium patients, not many locals. All bronzed with winter sunburns they betook themselves to the rink to watch the speedy sportsmen. None of them had any but the barest knowledge of skating, nevertheless they felt competent to discern a good athlete, not least the women among them. Discussion went high. Would the Swede win again? Would the young Austrian come good this time? Some favoured the Finns and some the Norwegians, and betting was rife. Not a few staked their coins on the Norwegian teenager with the kingly name.

Oscar himself felt fresh and strong, fancying his chances. Of course he was wary of Öholm and Bohrer, his main rivals from Klagenfurt, but the Finnish newcomers were strong, too. Wathén, the champion from 1901, perhaps on his way down now, but always a smart-ass and to be reckoned with. Strömstén, who should have been title holder, did not look weaker since last year. Always a great promise for Finland. Wicklund (using the old spelling), though, had beaten him in the national championship, and looked strong. Then there was Wikander (using the old spelling), the champion from 1905, always a menace on the shorter distances. He could steal points there, but his longer ones looked weak.

The draw in the evening gave Oscar Wicklund as a pairmate, the Finnish champion, probably his main rival. And in the first pair. He felt a little consterned. But he was ready.