Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

A 100 years ago today, the season had just started. Oscar Mathisen had skated his first races at Frogner in the 2nd weekend of January, as he did the year before, and in a convincing fashion, clocking 8.51,4 - 46,1 - 2.27,7, close behind his lowland bests in every distance. He had finished last season with a hat trick, the first triple champion in skating history, winning the national, the European and the world championships in one go. And now he looked all set to continue the trend, one year more mature, with one year more to perfect his technique and improve his condition even more.

And he was well prepared, too. Formerly he had been on a crippling schedule, with 10 hour shifts of hard labour making it tough to find time for adequate training. But his bosses at Aker Mekaniske Værksted had noticed his progress on the skating rink and wondered what they could do to help him collect even more glory to the fatherland. Obviously the kind of work he was on now wasn’t worthy of a top athlete and darling of the nation, so they called him up to offer a somewhat lighter schedule. Oscar seized at the opportunity of finding some work more worthy of his position, and soon he was employed at the Munkedamsveien private engineering office of Sam Eyde, who at the time was busy developing his nitrogen industries in Notodden and planning another plant, soon to be opened at Rjukan.

So, for almost a year, Oscar had busied himself photocopying drawings of cutting edge nitrogen fixating and hydroelectric equipment and shuttling the copies back and forth from the office at Munkedamsveien to the main offices of Norsk Hydro-Elektriske at Sommerrogaten. The work was light enough, but so were the wages, 40 kroner a month, hardly more than he got as an apprentice for his first year at Aker, and barely enough to pay for board and lodging, let alone clothes and other necessities. A difficult situation enough for a young man of modest origins, but for a world star and darling of the nation it must have been downright unbearable.

Luckily, travel and skating expenses were all paid for, and this weekend, Oscar was present to defend the first of his three titles, the national one, at Øen Stadion in Trondhjem. The weather was grim, with a stiff southerly, and heavy rains fell from the dreary sky over the gathering crowd. But the rink was festive, and the size and the mood of the crowd no less than on the greatest and the brightest of skating days.

No doubt all the Trønders had high hopes for their home favourite Sæterhaug after his excellent finish of the season before, when he beat Oscar over his world record distance. And as fate would have it, perhaps somewhat helped by the organisers, the two of them would meet again in today’s distance, the 5000 m. The crowd obliged by setting up a noise level to fully rival the decibel record from their 1500 m race the year before, and their enthusiasm didn’t seem to die in the least as Oscar pulled further and further away from Sæterhaug. When he crossed the line at 9.15 flat the cheer was endless, and Oscar realised he had won the Trønders over, sportsmen as ever they had adopted him as their favourite as well.

5000 m
1.Oscar Mathisen   9.15,0
2.Magnus Johansen  9.29,4
3.Martin Sæterhaug 9.32,8
4.Adolph Költzow   9.39,6
5.Trygve Lundgreen 9.43,6
6.Ivar Fyhn       10.37,2pb
Johannes Fladaas dnf
Wictor Stoppenbrink dnf

This Fladaas btw had nearly skated an inofficial national record in the 3000 m three days before with 5.54,0, only a second behind Adolf Norseng’s old result from 1888. Of other results it could be mentioned that Nikolaj Strunnikov set pbs in Moscow the weekend before this at 49,6 and 2.39,0, climbing to 29th place in Adelskalenderen. But perhaps this news went by unnoticed or perhaps even failed to reach the Norwegian skaters of 1910...

The championship continues tomorrow with the 500 m and the 1500 m.