Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Triumphant at Frogner

The morning broke a hundred years ago today with a sharp wind from the north, bringing flurries of snow. Thankfully it died down and towards the afternoon it cleared up, promising another day of record ice at Frogner Stadion. Possibly more than 20 per cent of the city’s population were on their legs this morning, herded by cavalry and police, looking for an opportunity to watch Oscar Mathisen defending his World Championship. The atmosphere was frantic. When 30 thousand had found their places on the stands, on the hills or in the trees outside the stadium or on the roofs of neighbouring buildings, there were still more than ten thousand outside, some of them sticking bank notes through the fence in desperation, begging to be let in.

In the first pair of the 1500m, the Drammenser Torgersen in his cute light blue attire skated against Pedersen and beat him by a second, clocking 2.44. Then, Sigurd Mathisen defeated the young Lundgreen and took the lead at 2.32,8. But Sæterhaug in the next pair looked sharper, skated well and clocked 2.29,8—his first lowland time below 2.30. Only Eden, Østlund, Oscar, Sinnerud and Halvorsen had skated faster on lowland ice before. His pairmate Magnus Johansen did well too with 2.31,6 and a new pb.

In the 4th pair it was time for today’s duel between Oscar and Oluf Steen, and this time there was nothing hesitant about it. Steen still fancied his chances, and started out fast. At first he was well into it, but seemed to lose some ground in the curves, and in the 2nd lap, Oscar had gained a distinct advantage. Steen did his best, but had no chance, the record holder just skated away from him, showing his numerous fans truly what he could do. His time was just a fifth behind the track record at 2.27,4. Steen’s time was good, too, 2.30,6, setting a new pb, but being comprehensively defeated.

In a later pair, the two sensation men Burnov and Andersson met and fought a lively duel, where the Swede just barely got the better of the Russian on the last straight. But the times were only 2.34,2 and 2.34,4, and it was clear that the title race was over for either of them.

1.O Mathisen 2.27,4
2.Sæterhaug  2.29,8 lpb
3.Steen      2.30,6 pb
4.Johansen   2.31,6 pb
5.S Mathisen 2.32,8
6.Andersson  2.34,2 pb
7.Burnov     2.34,4 pb
8.Wickström  2.34,6
9.Lundgreen  2.35,6 pb
10.Andresen  2.37,2 pb
11.Hansen    2.37,6 pb
12.Thourén   2.39,8 pb
13.Torgersen 2.44,0
14.Pedersen  2.45,0 pb

1.O Mathisen  5
2.Steen       9
3.Sæterhaug  10
4.Andersson  16
5.Johansen   16.5
6.S Mathisen 18
7.Burnov     20
8.Wickström  24
9.Lundgreen  25.5
10.Hansen    28.5
11.Andresen  31.5
12.Thourén   32
13.Torgersen 37

Clearly now it would be hard to wrest the world title out of the hands of the young Mathisen. But the 10000m was not his best distance, and after all, Steen had only 4 points to make up, despite his clubmate’s effort to help Oscar. There was still some fighting to do yet.

In the pause there were junior races again, a 500m, won by Bjarne Frang and Otto Monsen in 49,0 ahead of Henning Olsen 49,2, who skated two outer curves and otherwise surely would have won. Ejnar Sørensen, his pairmate, was #4 with 49,4.

The first 10000m pair to skate was Burnov and Wickström. The Russian skated lap by lap in a fierce pace, and the young Finn followed bravely for the first 10-12 laps. Then he had to let go and in the end was nearly a lap behind. After the finish, the patriotic Wickström swore a seething oath that he would be better prepared next time. Burnov’s time, 18.17,4, was a rink record. Only Eden had skated faster on a lowland track before.

Trygve Lundgreen and Konrad Andresen were next. The Mossing proved no match for the young KSK talent and himself was nearly lapped towards the end. Lundgreens new pb of 18.53,0 was the 13th best lowland time ever.

In the third pair, Thourén and Olaf Hansen made a sharp race, until the Norwegian fell behind about half-way. But he too set a fine new pb at 18.56,0, and the Swede was 2nd so far with the even finer time of 18.37,6, an 8th place in the lowland all time list behind Eden, Burnov, Öholm, Strunnikov, Bohrer, Sigurd Mathisen, and Johan Schwartz.

In the fourth pair, Magnus Johansen and Oluf Steen fought a close duel under loud applause, and the KSK talent in the end did his clubmate Oscar a great favour in beating Steen by 2.6 seconds, he, too, setting a fine new pb in 18.48,2.

Then it was Oscar’s turn against Sæterhaug. The applause from the stands was boundless, as were the expectations. But Oscar found he could not meet them. He was unable to follow Burnov’s pace. He couldn’t even follow the pace of Thourén, no matter how much he tried and no matter how eloquently and persistently the people on the stands tried to encourage him. All he could do was fighting for the title. And there was some fighting to do. Lundgreen, Hansen and Wickström had made it difficult for him by finishing just behind Steen. He had to skate 18.56 or faster, otherwise he would lose his points advantage over Steen. And then Sæterhaug could secure the title for his clubmate by beating Oscar. You can bet he was aware of this. And surely Oscar was being well informed about his standing versus the 18.56 schedule throughout the race as well, despite the prohibition. So, Martin had a lot to fight for, and the race was close for many laps, but he had to give in at the end, and Oscar spurted home 4 seconds ahead of the schedule.

In the last pair, Andersson made another fine display and secured the distance silver with 18.31,8, in the end just about lapping Sigurd Mathisen, whose national record still was safe.

Thus the title holder had defended his title, and was required to skate a lap of honour with an enormous wreath of laurels around his shoulders. He did not get far, because the public stormed the ice, lifted him up and carried him around the track.

1.Burnov      18.17,4 pb, rr
2.Andersson   18.31,8 pb
3.Thourén     18.37,6 pb
4.Johansen    18.48,2 pb
5.Steen       18.50,8 lpb
6.O Mathisen  18.52,0
7.Lundgreen   18.53,0 pb
8.Hansen      18.56,0 pb
Wickström     18.56,0 pb
10.Sæterhaug  18.58,4 lpb
11.S Mathisen 19.16,4
12.Andresen   19.32,4 pb

Ten sub-19 races, a record of its own kind. And Andersson’s fine effort compared to Sæterhaug’s inferior one made sure that the bronze medal went to Sweden:

GOLD.Oscar Mathisen   11
Silver.Oluf Steen     14
bronze.Otto Andersson 18
4.Martin Sæterhaug    20
Jevgenij Burnov       20
6.Magnus Johansen     20.5
7.Sigurd Mathisen     29
8.Väinö Wickström     32.5
Trygve Lundgreen      32.5
10.Gotthard Thourén   34
11.Olaf Hansen        37
12.Konrad Andresen    43.5

And the lucky 30000 trickled home from Frogner Stadion, smiles on their faces, and with great tidings to tell to those unlucky ones waiting at home and to their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren in times yet to come.

And another championship was over, one of the greatest ever. The icemaster, Zakken Johansen the Elder, had done a superb job. Steen, Andersson, Burnov, Johansen, Lundgreen, Hansen and Andresen all equalled or beat their pbs on all distances. Thourén and Wickström both set three pbs, and Steen climbed to 14th place in Adelskalenderen and to 5th place in the lowland Adelskalender.

Oscar Mathisen wasn’t visibly hampered from skating in his brother’s skates, but Sigurd seems to have been hampered, although he did beat his 5000m pb, so apparently he wasn’t allowed to use his own skates in-between, but had to make out with an inferior pair. Anyway he’d had a good season still, and his vital part in his brother’s triumph must have felt satisfying after all.