Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Watch out, Strunnikov!

The citizens of Kristiania woke in excitement and expectation in the early morning a 100 years ago today, shuffling to their bedroom windows in their pajamas to catch some slightly worried glimpses of the weather. Relieved they found that it was yet another fine winter’s day, still cloudy and somewhat humid, but 4–5 degrees below freezing and probably the ice would be good and hard. Their reflections over the ice conditions had their reasons, because the darling of the town, n’Oscar, was at large again after his 1 year suspension. An unfair one in the opinion of the majority. But there were those who had their doubts. Particularly there were those who wondered if other rules applied for n’Oscar than for ordinary people. Still, the 10000 who chose to make their way to Frogner this Sunday, with or without tickets, gave him a warm welcome, under waving banners. Just like yesterday the club had hung up whatever they could find of national flags. The atmosphere was almost sparklingly nationalistic. Every man and woman of the nation waited anxiously for news about Amundsen, and the tension between the great European nations after the Agadir crisis was agonising as well.

Mathisen and Sæterhaug on the starting line, from Norsk Idrætsblad

Some slight snow had started to fall as Oscar started his 1500m with Martin Sæterhaug, who had finished 2nd in the 500m. But the ice was hard and smooth and the speed high. Stroke for stroke the two old rivals fought for the pair, along the first straight, through the first curve and up the second straight towards the 300m split, which they passed side by side. Oscar let his strength play out; he knew and felt fully what it could do for him and his legs obeyed his slightest wish; his control was complete. At the next split he had a slight lead, then he relentlessly increased it meter by meter until the finish line. When the time was read, 2.24,4, Henning Olsen had lost his second national record and now was recordless. The ovations were unstoppable. Sæterhaug made a fine race, too, and finished in 2.29,9. But Strunnikov’s rink record from last year survived.

Results 1500m
1.Oscar Mathisen.KSK     2.24,4 NR lowland pb
2.Martin Sæterhaug.TSK   2.29,9
3.Henning Olsen.KSK      2.31,2
4.Trygve Lundgreen.KSK   2.34,8
5.Bjarne Frang.KSK       2.37,8
6.Stener Johannessen.KSK 2.38,3
7.Aksel Mathiesen.KSK    2.39,0 pb
8.Magnus Hereth.KSK      2.39,9
9.Einar Staff.KIF        2.40,0
10.Thoralf Thoresen.KSK  2.40,8
11.Einar Berntsen.KSK    2.41,2
12.Reidar Gundersen.KSK  2.42,5
Ludvig Engebretsen.KIF fall
Overall after 3 races:
1.Oscar Mathisen      3
2.Henning Olsen       8
3.Martin Sæterhaug    9
4.Trygve Lundgreen   11
5.Stener Johannessen 16
6.Aksel Mathiesen    18
7.Einar Staff        19
Now it was time for the junior 500m. Again the journalists were too lazy to report all the times, and we have only the top 15 ones.
Resultater 500 m junior
1.Ragnvald Mathiesen.KSK 48,7
2.Trygve Aulie.KSK       48,8 pb
3.Ivar Fyhn.TSK          49,0
4.Gunerius Schou.KSK     49,2
Thoralf Hansen.KSK       49,2 pb
6.Jacob Sæterhaug.TSK    50,0f pb
7.Wilhelm Wolff.KSK      50,1
8.Sigurd Syversen.KSK    50,2
9.Yngvar Jacobsen.KSK    50,3
10.Karl Gulbrandsen.KSK  50,4 eq.pb
Lars Larsen.HSK          50,4 pb
Thorolf Hansen.KSK       50,4
Einar Mathiesen.KSK      50,4
14.Johan Evensen.KSK     51,3
15.Jonas Syversen.KSK    51,8

Henning Olsen,
from Norsk Idrætsblad
In the 5000 m, Oscar met one of those who had their doubts, the reigning national champion Henning Olsen, who in a week had lost both of the national records that he had won in the absence of Oscar the year before—also the one who was to reply “Burnov” to the wonder and amusement of everyone through all the long years he lived and worked for the benefit of the skating sport when asked about his opinion on who’s the greatest skater of all time. Olsen did not end up far behind his rival in the Scandinavian mile the day before and he decided to follow Oscar. This he managed easily for the first few laps, but then the darling of the town sped up and produced one 42 lap after another. Still Olsen managed to hang on, but then the old champion sped up even more and his laps went down to 41, starting to gain on the world record. Olsen had to let go; the gap quickly widened and the once and renewed king crossed the line alone in 8.45,8, again short of the rink record of the Russian, but yet accompanied by an enormous roar of approval that still went on when the still reigning national champion finished his race over 100 meters behind. Splittimes: 1.07-1.50-2.32-3.14-3.56-4.38-5.19-6.00-6.41-7.22-8.04-8.45,8.
Results 5000m
1.Oscar Mathisen.KSK     8.45,8 lowland pb
2.Henning Olsen.KSK      8.58,0
3.Trygve Lundgreen.KSK   9.06,3
4.Stener Johannessen.KSK 9.09,6 pb
5.Martin Sæterhaug.TSK   9.13,0
6.Aksel Mathiesen.KSK    9.27,2
1.Oscar Mathisen      4
2.Henning Olsen      10
3.Martin Sæterhaug   14
Trygve Lundgreen     14
5.Stener Johannessen 16
6.Aksel Mathiesen    19
The meet was finished in the traditional manner with a 2000m handicap race that Martin Sæterhaug won along with Henry Johansen from Torshaug, who had a 300 meters head start. But the handicap race, formerly the most popular event, colloquially phrased as the “raisin in the sausage”, now had lost its glamour and people started leaving for their Sunday meatballs before its start. After the four Oscarly races this weekend it couldn’t help being somewhat anticlimactic somehow.

Strunnikov was on everybody’s lips. Now the nation felt that it could challenge him. The clashes between the two champion skaters were going to be historical and fans were looking forward to a season never to forget. The newspapers quoted statements of Strunnikov; his comparison of Oscar Mathisen to a duck sailing smoothly over the ice during his 1500 meters, his claim that the meters were shorter and the seconds longer in Davos. Also, the journalists warned their readers against imitating the Russian too much stylistically, and Olsen was promoted as a new good model. Next week the skaters were to return to Hamar for the 1912 National Championship and then the World and European ones were due at Klagenfurt and Stockholm respectively. One had to admit that the times of Oscar couldn’t quite match Strunnikov’s best ones from last year, but the ones in the know claimed that the conditions then were much better. Confidently the fans of Oscar looked forward to the weeks ahead.