Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary


A hundred years ago today, the Kristiania-Helsingfors club match was continuing. The gods thought the skaters had suffered enough for their hubris now; they were in a milder mood and the night had been cold. The icemaster of Frogner, Zakken Johansen the First, exploited the cold to produce an excellent surface for Sunday’s two races. The crowds numbered at least 10-12 thousand, and it seemed the townspeople really were beginning to find their way back to the skating arenas again after some years of recess.

The races began well for the Finns, as Johansen in the first pair didn’t stand a chance against the (inofficial) world record holder Vikander, who skated like a small whirlstorm and clocked 46,4.

Oscar’s brother, the other world record holder, tried his best to match him, but failed with the smallest possible margin: 46,6. However, he defeated Strömstén, who clocked 48,0.

Oscar then met Schrey, who gave little resistance. Too little, as Oscar claims, to push him towards his first 500 m win. As it was, he only equalled Vikander, the world record holder—not so bad after all.

In the last pair, Gundersen however had no-one to push him at all, as Wathén fell in the first curve. Rudolf Gundersen had stopped serious skating since his European Championship in 1906. But he still was active as a hobbyist, and his technique was intact. Speedy as an arrow he shot across the finish line.

And the timekeepers started conferring. Their clocks were divergent. Did the rules allow for giving him a time 1/10 of a second lower than Vikander? Yes they did! Or maybe they didn’t, but anyhow, the popular Rudolf Gundersen got his well-earned deduction and the distance points added up to KSK 7½, HSK 13½; total KSK 17½, HSK 24½.

Then it looked well wrapped-up, but the Finns were famous for their middle distance abilities and if they managed a treble like last time, they could still haul a victory from the match.

Indeed, Gundersen had done his bit for the day and was thoroughly beaten by Vikander in the first pair, who clocked 2.35,0.

Schrey then beat Sigurd Mathisen in a close pair, finishing just 1/5 behind Vikander, with Sigurd 2/5 behind him, and the rescue operation seemed to be under way.

In another close and exciting pair however, Johansen beat Wathén, but their times, 2.37,4 and 2.37,8, indicated that the old champion was not going to count in the final reckoning.

Then, in the final pair, Oscar Mathisen, the now Kristiania hero, who had shown the world a new way to skate the 1500 m in Davos, made a similar demonstration again, and finished in 2.30,6 for his second distance win. Strömstén did his best to follow, but had to let the teenager go. He finished second in the event with 2.34,4, and his club did win it on team points, by 9 to 12, but the final reckoning was KSK 29½, HSK 33½, and the Kristiania club had opened a 2 to 1 lead for the 2nd Cup.

The crowd went home happy, probably not worrying overmuch about the fact that they were leaving not more than an hour after they arrived. A meet in the 21st century spirit indeed, anticipating the TV age.

At the Swedish Championship in Falun, they had more entertainment, at least quantitatively. The struggle for the overall title was not exciting though, despite the fact that the Swedes still did skate for an overall title, a practice they were to abandon not many years afterwards. Öholm won another two distances at 2.41,6 and 20.00,2 and the title unchallenged, no doubt enjoying the praise of all the Dalakarls present.

More exciting was the battle for silver. Well placed after day one was Olof Hofstedt, but he looked indisposed now with a 1500 m in 2.58,2, and withdrew from the 10000 m. Pettersson and Carlsson were equal in points, Svensson 3 points behind, but he could still prove dangerous. Pettersson however fended him off in a close race, but then Carlsson gained an advantage with a good 1500, almost up to the standard of Öholm. Points after 1500 m: Öholm 3, Carlsson 9, Pettersson 9.5, Hofstedt 13, Svensson 13.5, Morén, Låstbom, and Berglund 20. Pettersson gains half a point as Lindbom didn’t start in the 1500 m, and only needs to beat Carlsson in the 10000 m to win silver.

However, Carlsson did his job well and kept ahead of Pettersson, who probably was paired with Öholm, and lapped by him. Even Morén went past the Davos participant in the end, equalling Carlsson for 2nd place in the distance.

Mauritz Öholm   2.41,6 1 20.00,2 1   4 (GOLD)
Birger Carlsson 2.43,0 2 20.50,4 2   9.5 (Silver)
Jean Pettersson 2.49,0 3 20.53,6 4   12.5 (bronze)
Harald Svensson 2.49,4 4 22.07,0 5   16.5 (4th)
Henrik Morén    2.50,2 5 20.50,4 2   17.5 (5th)
Olof Hofstedt   2.58,2 8
Albert Berglund 2.51,8 6
Osvald Låstbom  2.53,8 7