Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Fending off Swedes

With the Finns so surprisingly weakened, it fell to the Swedes to teach this wild new Norwegian upstart with that weird appearance the lessons he appeared to need. The weather this Sunday was fine, but windy, and the word of yesterday’s sensational results had been spreading, so the spectators flocked around the track at Djurgårdsbrunnviken like never before. Amongst them, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf with his spouse and a large retinue.

In the hotel rooms of the Norwegian guests, rumours were heard that the Swedes were plotting a revenge for yesterday’s losses. Öholm was expected to make an effort in the 1500m, while the two new breakthrough men Thourén and Andersson would take charge of the battle for the glory of the Swedish flag in the Scandinavian mile. Oscar thought: We’ll see. If they wanted his hide, he did not intend to give it away cheaply.

And the 1500 meter proceeded much as he had expected. A distance he wasn’t prepared to concede any time soon. He won and beat the Swedish record by seconds. And Öholm even lost the 2nd place to Sigurd in a head-to-head duel. Oscar was paired with Thourén for some strange reason.

1500 m
1.Oscar Mathisen    2.32,0
2.Sigurd Mathisen   2.35,4
3.Moje Öholm        2.35,8
4.Franz F Wathén    2.38,0
5.Magnus Johansen   2.38,8
6.Antti Wiklund     2.39,6
7.Eino Vanhala      2.39,8
8.Otto Andersson    2.40,6
9.Kalle Lauhala     2.41,2
10.Gunnar Strömstén 2.41,8
Birger Carlsson     2.42,6
Gotthard Thourén    2.43,2
Olof Hofstedt       2.43,2
Henrik Morén        2.46,4
Ejnar Sørensen      2.47,6

However, the big battle was set for the 10000m. The Scandinavian mile was a particular Swedish invention, a measure of length unknown outside the former Scandinavian double monarchy. And it is my guess that the Swedes, too, were instrumental when the distance was introduced from the first season under the ISU. And the Swedes embraced it from the beginning, skating it a handful of times or more each season, while other nations perused it only with great reluctance, if at all. In Sweden, speedskating traditionally was a sport arranged mainly for the benefit of the skaters. ln Norway, it was a mass spectator sport already from the days of Axel Paulsen, and thus commercialism quickly became an important aspect of the game. Clubs arranged speedskating in order to get an income, and were reluctant to including something that they feared would chase the spectators away. Thus, until the Oscar Mathisen era, the 10000 was arranged only sporadically in this country, on the average only once every 3rd year or so. The distance wasn’t included in the national championship until 1912. On the other hand the Swedes had every reason to regard it as their own distance, and undeniably they have displayed some possessive attitudes towards it in later years as well. That is another different story, however.

In the first pair a hundred years ago today, Strömstén and Louhala finished in 19.54,4 and 20.03,4. Then Oscar started with Sigurd again. Evidently the pairings were based on the 1500m. Sigurd had skated well during these games, displaying his best form so far this season. Now he pressed hard for many laps. Only near the end he had to let go, and Oscar crossed the line at 19.13,0 with his brother a little over 100 meters behind. In the next pair, Magnus Johansen defeated Wiklund easily. Having had no opportunities for skating the distance since 1906, he set a pb by more than 50 seconds, bringing him for the first time inside the top 30 in Adelskalenderen.

The first wave of attack on Oscar came from Andersson, who overtook Vanhala around the finish line, clocking 19.20,2. Then Öholm started with Wathén. He too overtook his Finn near the end, and after a nice and level race was only two seconds short of equalling Oscar. With Andersson between himself and Sigurd Mathisen, he managed at least to rob Oscar’s brother of the second place overall.

Finally the turn came to Thourén, the new Swedish record holder in both of the long distances. He was paired with Carlsson, who seemed intent to help his pairmate by keeping pace for many laps. When he was spent, Thourén skated past him under great applause and set up a tremendous pace. His energy seemed endless. With apparent ease he held his pace throughout the last laps, and the crowd noise was deafening when he crossed the line after a finish convincing Oscar totally that his time would fall.

It did not fall. It held, but Thourén was only two fifths behind. Two fifths after 10 kilometers! Oscar says that for a moment, in the joy of his own victory, he half wished that the Swede had made it. He had fought so bravely, and Oscar felt he had deserved it.

1.Oscar Mathisen   19.13.0
2.Gotthard Thourén 19.13,4
3.Moje holm       19.15,0
4.Otto Andersson   19.20,2
5.Sigurd Mathisen  19.25,6
6.Birger Carlsson  19.30,2
7.Magnus Johansen  19.36,8
8.Gunnar Strömstén 19.54,4
9.Henrik Morén     19.55,4
10.Kalle Louhala   20.03,4
Franz F Wathén     20.04,0
Eino Vanhala       20.09,4
Antti Wiklund      20.22,2
Olof Hofstedt fell

As Preben’s lists don’t have place numbers beyond 10th, they are possibly incomplete. An overall list using the known times is as follows:

1.Oscar Mathisen     4
2.Moje Öholm        14
3.Sigurd Mathisen   15.5
4.Otto Andersson    23
5.Magnus Johansen   23
6.Gotthard Thourén  28
7.Franz F Wathén    29
8.Eino Vanhala      29.5
9.Birger Carlsson   35
Kalle Louhala       35
11.Antti Wiklund    39
12.Gunnar Strömstén 42
13.Henrik Morén     47