Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Nordiska Spelen

The breakup of the Swedish-Norwegian union, which for a few weeks seemed bound to result in violence or even murder, lead to some discord between Swedes and Norwegians in general, and sportsmen of the two countries had avoided visiting each other on the sporting field since 1905. Until now, a hundred years ago today, when the Stockholm club invited skates from all the neighbouring countries to Nordiska Spelen on Djurgårdsbrunnviken. The Kristiania club sent a strong team of well-prepared skaters, both speed and figure, and it was clear that they intended to state a few points. The atmosphere within the team was different, too, a little more tense than usual. Tension was felt from the other side as well, and sometimes they heard unpleasant remarks towards the “Nordbaggar”. Oscar however states that mostly the team experienced nothing but nice and friendly attitudes during their stay. Funnily enough, though, the press of the Swedish capital did not expect much from the Norwegians. They unanimously held Wathén for favourite, of all people.

Personally he had a particular problem during this meet, as during the journey from Davos he had developed an infection in the root of one of his front teeth, and a swelling had grown to such dimensions within a hundred years ago today that his exterior appearance was influenced in a most unusual manner. It was more uncomfortable than actually painful, however, and Oscar drew some amusement from his conversations with Finnish and Swedish skaters who struggled hard to keep a nonchalant face in front of this apparition, and from strangers who came by to scrutinise the World Champion and offer compliments, standing there dumb-stricken with various degrees of astonishment on their faces.

«Spurt vid målet»—drawing from <em>Nordiska Spelen</em> in Stockholm 1909Oscar complains a little about the track, as the lanes weren’t marked in the usual way (without giving any specific details), and the sea ice was tougher to skate on than freshwater ice. But the weather was fine and the track was surrounded by thousands of spectators as Vanhala and the new home talent Otto Andersson started in the first pair. The Finn proved stronger here, finishing in 49,0, with Andersson one second behind. Oscar then was paired with Magnus Johansen, and with swift strokes he soon tore away from his teammate. His bold pace through the curves drew applause from the crowd, and the time, announced to 47,2, was one fifth below the Swedish record. Oscar is very specific about this. Then Öholm started against Thourén. 47,2—it couldn’t be that impossible, could it? He had to try, the thousands around the track demanded it. He sprinted powerfully from the start, left his pairmate quickly behind, attacked the curves vigorously and skated long, powerful strides on the straights. Evidently he was in good shape. But disappointingly, his time was only 48,0. And to rub it in, Sigurd, paired with Josef Lindbom, later beat his time with 47,6.

1.Oscar Mathisen   47,2
2.Sigurd Mathisen  47,6
3.Moje Öholm       48,0
4.Eino Vanhala     49,0
5.Kalle Louhala    49,4
6.Franz F Wathén   49,6
7.Magnus Johansen  49,8
Olof Hofstedt      49,8
9.Otto Andersson   50,0
10.Birger Carlsson 51,0
Antti Wiklund      51,4f
Gunnar Strömstén   51,6
Josef Lindbom      51,8
Gotthard Thourén   52,8
Ejnar Sørensen     53,6
Henrik Morén       54,2

In the break before the 5000m, the Finn Alexander Bäckström skated a 500 in 47,6 in the junior class, equalling Sigurd Mathisen. Evidently a remarkable talent.

In the 5000, Oscar skated in the 3rd pair with his brother. Again he made a strong race, finishing in 9.14,6, well below the Swedish record, and winning his second distance. Thourén set a new Swedish record in 9.20,2, whether before or after Oscar, I don’t know. Oscar praises the Swedish specatators, who cheered for him as if he was their own, though he had beaten their skaters and their records.

A probably rather less applauded skater was the Dane Ejnar Sørensen, who participated here in place of Copenhagen, where the first Danish Championship was arranged this weekend a hundred years ago. He set a Danish record in the 5000m in 10.17,2. His former personal best was 10.26,2, which is quite remarkable as his 10000 was 19.07,4. Perhaps quite a bit of a record of its kind.

Strange as well to see the lowly Finnish results, with the exception of Bäckström, of course. Også påfallende var den svake finske innsatsen. Had the Finns been having trouble preparing for the season? Excessive snows, perhaps? There must be some reason why have so few early season results from them.

1.Oscar Mathisen   9.14,6
2.Gotthard Thourén 9.20,2
3.Otto Andersson   9.25,6
4.Magnus Johansen  9.29,4
5.Moje Öholm       9.29,8
6.Sigurd Mathisen  9.32,2
Eino Vanhala       9.32,2
8.Franz F Wathén   9.33,8
9.Birger Carlsson  9.42,2
10.Antti Wiklund   9.42,6
Henrik Morén       9.44,8
Gunnar Strömstén   9.48,6
Olof Hofstedt      9.53,8
Ejnar Sørensen    10.17,2
Josef Lindbom     10.22,2

In addition to the juniors, there were also veteran (old boys) races in the break before the 5000m. Among the participants we find Gustaf Fjästad and Frithiof Ericsson, for example. The winner here, too, was a Finn, Theodor Baltscheffski, in 54,8. His pairmate, engineer Arvid Nissen, lost his balance just after the finish line, grabbed for an iron post and missing it, struck it with great force in the chest and stomach region. He orbited the post in high speed and fell over, tried to rise on his elbow, but then sank down with blood flowing from his mouth. Apparently he expired there and then. And protection mats still were decades away.