A 100 years ago today, the American mining industry had just suffered its most hellish week in all known history. At the same time, the weather was improving markedly over the Swedish capital Stockholm, where the Kristiania team prepared themselves to defend the lead they had set up over the home team in the cup match between the two cities on Hammarby Sjö the day before. It had cleared up during the night and grown colder, so that when the races started on Sunday, the ice was pretty good and hard. I don’t have any exact starting list, but can imagine that they proceeded as follows: First Költzow beat Zerling, finishing in 49.0. Then Andersson beat Johansen easily and took the lead with 48.6, a new personal best, through which he climbed to 18th place in Adelskalenderen, equal to Vikander. But then the new Kristiania hope Henning Olsen beat Carlsson easily and clocked 48.3, assuring a Norwegian lead before the last pair of the distance, Mathisen-Öholm.
That pair eclipsed anything else. Öholm, a good sprinter with a special renown after equalling the world record three years before, thought he had a chance, as did the home audience. But most of them knew the chance was slight, since the reputation of the Norwegian as a sprinter had grown remarkably of late. That reputation proved true from the start, as Mathisen inexorably pulled away along the first straight and entered the curve with a daring and audacity formerly unseen in the Swedish capital. And when he crossed the line, he had spent almost a second less than when he set his Swedish inland record at Djurdgårdsbrunnviken last year. Öholm’s race was good, enough for second place, more than half a second ahead of Olsen. But he was outdistanced by almost 15 meters. Mathisen’s race was fabulous, yes, it was fantastic. The pampered Swedish spectators were hard up for words. At last they found them. “Leve Norge!” they shouted. “Leve Norge!”
The four Norwegian guests, busy with their various tasks at different places around the track, were astonished. They didn’t know how to react. Slowly they drew together to accept the applause, which seemed to be unison. Then they started shouting back. “Leve Sverige!” they shouted. “Leve Sverige!” The plan had worked. Friendship was growing between the brother nations, and the wounds from the union conflict were healing. Oscar wasn’t just a Vikagutt anymore, not only the darling and favourite of the Kristiania citizens. He had become the darling Oscar of all the Trønders as well, and now the Swedes. Who’s next?
500m 1.Oscar Mathisen 46.4 2.Moje Öholm 47.7 3.Henning Olsen 48.3 4.Otto Andersson 48.6 pb 5.Adolph Költzow 49.0 6.Paul Zerling 49.9 pb 7.Magnus Johansen 50.0 Birger Carlsson 50.0 pb Points: Kristiania 9, Stockholm 12, sum 18-24
In the 5000m the ice had softened under the rays of the February sun, and the times were not so impressive. More impressive were the Norwegians. They won each pair, and all the Norwegians who counted in the points reckoning were ahead of the best Swede. The lesser of them, Henning Olsen, beat the best Swede, Andersson, by 0.1 second. When the races ended, the shouts rung out over the track again, “Leve Norge!”. And the Norwegians replied with their “Leve Sverige!” Brotherhood ruled the ground. Sport had ennobled the human mind and brought peace. There was hope for the universe.
5000m 1.Oscar Mathisen 9.21.8 2.Magnus Johansen 9.29.0 3.Henning Olsen 9.32.8 4.Otto Andersson 9.32.9 5.Moje Öholm 9.38.2 6.Adolph Költzow 9.38.4 7.Paul Zerling 9.39.6 p 8.Birger Carlsson 9.42.0 Points: Kristiania 6, Stockholm 15, sum total 24-39
When darkness fell and the skaters were on their way, perhaps to the banquet, perhaps to the railway station, the universe threw its own reply into the bargain. The Great Comet wasn’t so bright any more that it could be seen as a vivid star in daytime. But in the nighttime it had grown tall, extending like an upside down scarf or necktie across half the sky, painting it in a pale white light. It was eerie and wonderful, and kind of spooky. The night sky was changed substantially, distorted. No wonder so many people wondered if the would would last much longer. But the four Norwegians who entered the night train back to their home town did not worry too much about that. They had done a good job, not only for the glory of the homeland, but for international brotherhood, peace and harmony just as well, and they were happy with their results.