Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

A 100 years ago today, two new World Champions had been crowned in boxing. Or perhaps belted is the word. In Richmond, California, the lightweight challenger Ad Wolgast defeated the old champ “Battling” Nelson on points when the match was stopped after 40(!) rounds. In Vernon, California, Frankie Conley knocked out Monte Attell in the 42nd(!) round of a bantam weight title match. Boxing was a men’s game a 100 years ago.

Speedskating mostly was a men’s game, too. At least the 20 participants at the European Championship in Wiborg were in for a test of manhood, though they didn’t know it yet. Unfortunately, I have tried in vain to get hold of first hand sources about this event, other than OM’s memoirs, that is. All Finnish newspapers have been digitalised so far until the last day of 1909, but there it ends. And the National Library does not lend out the microfilms. So if anyone can contribute any details more than the below, I’d appreciate.

The championship had all the makings of a great one. 20 participants, surpassed only at the European Championship in Stockholm 1905, and the 6 nations only at the World Championship in Davos 1908, never at the Europeans. Skating was a world sport, only gymnastics rivalled it in that aspect a 100 years ago. I doubt if any other sport event in 1910 can compare with the European Championship in Wiborg in terms of international stature.

In the beginning the conditions didn’t look so bad. The weather was cloudy, but calm and with only 2-3 degrees above zero (I imagine). But as the first pair were ready on the line, it started to snow. And it snowed like the whole material world was turning into snow, threatening to bury the Karelian capital under the avalanche. In the 500m, the times were yet reasonable.


1.Oscar Mathisen       47,2
2.Nikolaj Strunnikov   47,6
3.Martin Sæterhaug     48,8
4.Björn Damstén        49,0 pb
5.Thomas Bohrer        49,2
6.Väinö Wickström,
Franz F Wathén, and
John Vikander          49,4
9.Magnus Johansen and
Antti Wiklund          50,2
11.Alexander Bäckström 51,2
12.Birger Carlsson     51,6
13.Ejnar Sørensen and
Jevgenij Burnov        53,6
15.Grigorij Kiselev    54,0
T Hagman               54,0 pb
17.Stepan Nekrasov     54,4 pb
18.Nikolaj Rundjaltsev 59,6f pb
Knut Törnroth f, dnf
Arne Schrey dnf

Evidently this new Russian was quite a bit of a sprinter, not the Burnov type at all. Only less than half a second behind Oscar himself, who couldn’t have been skating a bad race; the differences otherwise were normal. Well well, let’s see what he can do in the longer distances.

After the 500m, the icekeepers tried to shovel away as much as they could (I imagine) of the moist, heavy snow, but already in the break they had a hard time catching up, and when the 5000m got under way, it was hopeless. Oscar stayed around wading in the slush for more than 10 minutes. The more slightly built Johansen did better to finish in 9.51. Then came the Russian. And he proved to be a long distance skater as well. In an energetic race he squeezed his lighter frame in front, and with Johansen now between himself and Oscar in the distance, he took the overall lead, too.


1.Strunnikov   9.49,4
2.Johansen     9.51,0
3.Mathisen    10.04,8
4.Vikander    10.05,8
5.Rundjaltsev 10.07,4 pb
6.Wickström   10.12,2
7.Wiklund og
Sæterhaug     10.15,2
9.Nekrasov    10.17,0 pb
10.Burnov     10.17,2
11.Damstén    10.22,0
12.Carlsson   10.27,2
13.Bohrer     10.31,0
14.Wathén     10.34,6
15.Sørensen   10.39,4
16.Kiselev    10.41,2
17.Hagman     10.41,8 pb
18.Bäckström  10.55,0


1.Strunnikov    3
2.Mathisen      4
3.Sæterhaug    10,5
4.Vikander     11
5.Johansen     11,5
6.Wickström    13
7.Damstén      15
8.Wiklund      17
9.Bohrer       18
10.Wathén      21
11.Rundjaltsev 23
12.Burnov      23,5
13.Carlsson    24
14.Nekrasov    26
15.Sørensen    28,5
16.Bäckström   29
17.Kiselev     31,5
18.Hagman      32,5