Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

First title defended

Schšnberg: Blaues Selbstportrett, 1910A hundred years ago today, Arnold Schönberg had his great inspiration and sat down to compose five of his 6 well known little piano pieces (op. 19). Meanwhile in the Pamir, a big earthquake buried the village Usoi under a landslide, also damming up the Murghab river. All the 302 inhabitants of the village were lost, and news of the disaster did not reach Moscow until 6 weeks later. A new lake, the Sarez, was formed, and the natural dam was named Usoi Dam in honour of the lost village. Below the river bed lay dry until 1914, when the water level reached the lowest parts of the dam, but Sarez Lake did not reach its full extent until 1920. The dam today is viewed as unstable, and if there is an earthquake in the area again, there is a risk of catastrophic flood.

In Framheim down in the Antarctic, the preparations continued for the 2nd depot drive. Amundsen left his boots in the able hands of Oscar Wisting, and had them returned in a somewhat less visually attractive but considerably more functional state. Scott was on his way home from his first drive and broke his record from yesterday by driving almost 42kms this Sunday, in patchy but in places rather good conditions. He was slowly arriving at the conclusion that it might possibly be a good idea to increase the rations of the animals a little, as dogs and ponies both had been getting into the habit of eating their own excrements.

Otto Andersson and Otto Monsen at the start of the 1500 m/Ejnar Sørensen/The King arrivesAt Hamar, the European Championship organisers were in trouble. The blizzard still raged at dawn, and at Lillemjøsa it was so dense they were unable to see across the track. The roads leading to Hamar were so snowed down in places that the roads had to be cleared before sleighs could run. Thankfully, the storm abated towards noon and when the races started at 1PM the conditions were reasonable, but the show continued to fall for the whole meet and the ice was swept diligently. A rather strong and gusty wind was burdensome, too, epecially along one of the straights. The weather didn’t scare the spectators away though. About 6-8000 of them were gathered on the stands and elsewhere around the track. Not bad for a town with 6104 registered residents in 1910. The skating club board went to the station at 11:45 to welcome the King.

In the first pair of the 1500m, Bohrer and Mathisen met again. The Austrian impressed with a light and fluid style, placing his skates with a precision like a virtuoso. The Norwegian found himself soundly outskated and crossed the finishing line over 6 seconds behind Bohrer’s time of 2.32,1, a fine time under the circumstances. In the 2nd pair, Gundersen beat Schou and clocked 2.39,4, good for 3rd place so far. In pair 3, Andersson beat Monsen by more than 7 seconds and achived the 2nd best time so far with 2.34,0.

Then the time had come for another Strunnikov-Sæterhaug-duel. The strong Trønder didn’t fancy capitulating from the start this time like in the Scandinavian mile the day before. This time the battle was on from the start an continued for every meter. After 300 meters they crossed the line side by side. And the second lap went by in the same fashion. The famously hard third lap went by under furious applause and still nothing between them. “Itte gje deg, Martin! Heng i!” the shouts ran. The decision came when the Russian pulled out his famed reserve of strength in the last (probably inner) curve. That bullet proved too hard for Sæterhaug. However, both times were under the previously best time of Bohrer, 2.29,2 and 2.31,2. This evidently concluded the race for the championship as well, if it wasn’t already concluded as of yesterday.

In the 5th pair, Johansen beat Taconis, clocking 2.37,7. I the 6th, Jensen beat Stai narrowly, setting the only pb in the distance. In the 7th, Johannessen met Hansen again and beat him soundly with a fine race at 2.36,3, giving him a 5th place so far, which he surprisingly lost to the Dane Sørensen, who also surprisingly fended off his pairmate Lundgreen. Possibly the best race of his career.


1.Nikolaj Strunnikov      2.29,2
2.Martin Sæterhaug        2.31,2
3.Thomas Bohrer           2.32,1
4.Otto Andersson          2.34,0
5.Ejnar Sørensen          2.35,8
6.Stener Johannessen      2.36,3
7.Trygve Lundgreen        2.37,4
8.Magnus Johansen         2.37,7
9.Sigurd Mathisen         2.38,2
10.Reidar Gundersen       2.39,4
11.Otto Monsen            2.41,1
12.Wynout Hendrik Taconis 2.42,4
13.Gunerius Schou         2.42,8
14.Sigurd Jensen          2.44,0 pb
Olaf Hansen               2.44,0
16.Karinius Larsen-Stai   2.44,8


1.Strunnikov   3 points
2.Bohrer       8
3.Sæterhaug   11
4.Andersson   13
5.Johannessen 18
6.Lundgreen   20
7.Sørensen    22
8.Mathisen    23
9.Johansen    25
10.Monsen     28
11.Hansen     30,5
12.Taconis    36
13.Jensen     37,5
14.Stai       39

Andersson and Lundgreen fought a close and sprightly duel in the first pair of the 5000m, Swede deciding it to his advantage with an irresistible final surge. The times were 9.14,1 and 9.15,7. Next, S¿rensen again beat his Norwegian pairmate, Sigurd Mathisen this time, but their times were both over 9.30. Sæterhaug and Hansen too kept respectfully behind the splittimes of Andersson, and it was with some consternation that the audience watched Hansen drawing away at the end and with 9.22,3 got the better of the 9.24,0 of his more illustrious pairmate, which meant that with already two skaters between Sæterhaug and the Swede, the best Norwegian already was behind Andersson in the overall reckoning. Paired next were the two stayers Johannessen and Johansen, and here the latter got his revenge over yesterday’s record man with a fine race of 9.16,4. In the 5th pair, Jensen had to skate alone as Stai retired, but still set a pb at 9.46,0.

Then finally it was time for the showdown between Strunnikov and Bohrer, the two lead players of the scene, who were originally scheduled to meet in the 10000m. But they had to do without the presence of King Hakon VII, because he had left at 3, to catch the extra train set up for him. Apart from him the stands were still packed. This after all was to be reckoned as the final, though the battle for the championship formally was over. Here they finally had the chance to show head to head who’s the best.

The flag fell and the pair set off. Side by side they came up to the finishing line first time. The image of the two elegant exotic stars stuck in the memory of town and valley dwellers, including my 13 years old grandfather, for decades to come—the Russian with his long, measured, precise strides, up to 13 meters long, and the Austrian with swifter but yet graceful movements, determined to offer the strongest possible resistance. Four more laps went by in this fashion, but the unique energy and stamina of Strunnikov was bound to prevail even against such a classy skater as Bohrer, and from lap 5, the difference increased steadily under intense applause from the stands. The champion finished his race in 9.02,4, an entire curve ahead of Bohrer, who still managed 2nd place so far with 9.12,6.

Then there were only two pairs left, and in the first of them, Gundersen beat Schou, both setting new pbs, and in the last, the Dutchman Taconis defeated the home favourite by more than a minute, reaping demonstrative applause. The meet was finished a little before 4 o’clock.


1.Nikolaj Strunnikov      9.02,4
2.Thomas Bohrer           9.12,6
3.Otto Andersson          9.14,1
4.Trygve Lundgreen        9.15,7
5.Magnus Johansen         9.16,4
6.Stener Johannessen      9.21,0
7.Olaf Hansen             9.22,3
8.Martin Sæterhaug        9.24,0
9.Reidar Gundersen        9.31,8 pb
10.Ejnar Sørensen         9.32,7
11.Gunerius Schou         9.37,8 pb
12.Sigurd Mathisen        9.38,2
13.Wynout Hendrik Taconis 9.39,3
14.Sigurd Jensen          9.46,0 pb
15.Otto Monsen           10.41,0

StrunnikovTotal points

1.Strunnikov   4
2.Bohrer      10
3.Andersson   16
4.Sæterhaug   19
5.Johannessen 24
6.Lundgreen   24
7.Johansen    30
8.Sørensen    31
9.Mathisen    33
10.Hansen     37,5
11.Monsen     41
12.Taconis    47
13.Jensen     49,5

The band played the Russian anthem and Strunnikov skated a lap of honour with a medal having ribbons in Norwegian flag colours. Reportedly, several film cameras had been in use during the weekend. I suppose nothing but crumbling nitrate residue is left of these films by now, if anything at all.

Afterwards, a dinner was arranged at Victoria Hotel 6 o’clock, and a lively supper with prize giving in Håndverkerforeningen at 8. Here, Bohrer impressed with an elegant sportive costume and a great mood despite his defeat, winning the hearts of everyone present and in particular the ladies. The winner, Strunnikov, was carried shoulder-high for a lap through the hall.