A 100 years ago today, the great comet was fading, and through the west-facing windows at Hôtel Wagram in Paris, it could only vaguely be seen as a dot of mist today. Inside one of the rooms, a king of poets was struggling for his life. No beggar, Bjørnson. But the electrotherapy in which he had put his trust, did not seem to help.
Back home in the country over which he had poetically reigned, the weather was not such that the admiration of any comet was at all possible. It was overcast with variable sleet and rain, and at Frogner Stadion where the KSK had invited to international races, the ice had deteriorated pitifully. The internationals attending were the two most impressive foreigners from last year’s World Championship, Burnov and Andersson, as well as the Dane Ejnar Sørensen. Otto Andersson is mentioned in the draw published on the first day of the meet, but it seems he had to withdraw due to illness. Burnov did appear, however. The fans remembered him well, and apparently he was quite an attraction, as 4000 of them were present at the start of the meet, almost unprecedented on a Saturday. The fact that Sunday tickets cost twice as much may have contributed some, though, and it had been announced that every Saturday ticket was valid for two children as well.
Burnov was interviewed by the newspaper. He still carries his nickname “Steam Engine”. Apparently he has learnt to skate the curves better, and his technique is more perfected. (Curiously he’s become much easier to beat at the same time.) He works as a mechanic (like so many others in his day), and has been speedskating for three years. In his opinion the lack of organisation and international communication are the primary obstacles for the development of skating in his country. But there are many talents, and he mentions a few: Jæbaew, Harkow, Kamschalow, Hasarow, Bluvas, and Saschin, names sure to make an impact in the years to come. I can only conclude that he was wrong. Of these, I can identify Yudaev, Khorkov, Nazarov and Blyuvas from known Russian lists, none of them for any particularly phenomenal results.
To the question of who he thinks will win the World Championship, he replies: “Hard to tell, but if Strunnikov had been here, I guess he would have had the best chances. He planned to come, in fact, but is unavailable because the Russian Championships take place this weekend. (So, Burnov was more dispensable?) Mathisen also has good chances for the championship, that can’t be denied, and his style and stroke, they are absolutely ideal. But Strunnikov may possibly do better overall.” Well, we shall see.
The expertise of Zakken Johansen and his crew had saved the Finnish Cup races, where the times were reasonable if not great. But against the damage caused by this weeklong thaw with rain and sleet, they were powerless, and the ice conditions were awful when the meet got under way at half past two. The published starting list is as follows: Burnov-Jacob Frang, Oscar Mathisen-Sæterhaug, Sørensen-Lundgreen, Sigurd Mathisen-Andersson and Johansen-Hansen. But Andersson did not start, and known starters Bjarne Frang and Henning Olsen are not mentioned, so I guess we have to take this with a pinch of salt. Oscar did win in the end, but in a dismal time, and his rivals were much closer than last time.
1.Oscar Mathisen 53.1 2.Henning Olsen 53.6 3.Martin Sæterhaug 54.6 4.Bjarne Frang 55.8 5.Jacob Frang 56.8 6.Sigurd Mathisen 57.5 7.Magnus Johansen 57.6 8.Trygve Lundgreen 57.8 9.Ejnar Sørensen 58.6 10.Jevgenij Burnov 59.6 11.Olaf Hansen 60.4
In the 10000m, the announced draw is as follows: Lundgreen-Burnov, Oscar Mathisen-Hansen, Sørensen-Bjarne Frang, Sigurd Mathisen-Olsen, Johansen-Andersson. The known results indicate that Jacob Frang, Sæterhaug and Johansen started as well, while Bjarne Frang and (as we know) Andersson do not appear. Possibly we can replace Bjarne by Jacob in the above list. According to the newspaper, the first pair between Lundgreen and Burnov was close, but Lundgreen had built up a slight advantage half-way. Then the Russian engine got his steam up and skated the second half faster than the first. No other race is mentioned except that Jacob Frang, the surprising distance winner, is characterised as a light, energetic skater skating with short strides. (So Oscar had an excuse for losing, apparently.) It was his first 10k as well, so he can’t complain about his debut. Thereby he entered Adelskalenderen in 121st place, equal to both Lauri Koskinen and Herbert Nordkvist in fact.
1.J Frang 24.03.2 pb 2.Burnov 24.15.0 3.Lundgreen 24.18.4 4.Johansen 24.19.6 5.O Mathisen 24.40.2 6.Hansen 25.03.6 7.Olsen 25.08.2 S Mathisen dnf Sæterhaug dnf Sørensen dnf Overall: 1.J Frang 4 2.O Mathisen 6 3.Johansen, Burnov and Lundgreen 8 6.Olsen 9 7.Hansen 13