Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Klagenfurt revisited

A hundred years ago today, Oscar Mathisen was standing at Klagenfurt looking over the Wörther See. He didn’t have his skates under his arm or anywhere near him at all, because what he was looking at wasn’t the beautiful, inviting wintry scene that had greeted him last time he was here, at his European Championship debut 1908, when he got his first happy memories from the magnificent lands abroad. The lake was open, only a few thin crusts lay along the edges after last night’s frost.

But the World Championship organisers had not given up. The local skating club, who were arranging this championship on the occasion of their 25th anniversary, had cleared and measured up an improvised track on Steiner Teich a little higher up in the hills, and today, Oscar had been up there doing some laps. The conditions were good. The people of the Klagenfurt club knew their stuff, and good times were to be expected. The main disappointment was the number of participants. Only four entries. And most disappointing of all: Strunnikov was not one of them. At the last moment he had withdrawn and a replacement was entered. Illness was said to be the reason. Ho-hum. Wonder what kind of illness that may be.

Apart from Oscar the entries list of the championship only included the home favourite, Thomas Bohrer, the Dane Ejnar Sørensen, and Strunnikov’s replacement, a new, unknown Russian, Nikita Naidenov. Only 19 years old, but with a well-developed thigh and hip musculature. He was reported to have been skating 9.04 and 18.31 at the Russian Championship, where he allegedly had beaten Strunnikov himself, and this on a 260 meter track with 7 curves if you can believe that. With such a build, he likely was a capable man, but still...

Bohrer and Sørensen were not in Klagenfurt, they had entered a meet in Davos, where Strunnikov also had been on the entries list, with the intention of proving his famed statment that the Davos meters were shorter and the Davos seconds longer. But he had withdrawn, along with Oscar Mathisen, who had also been entered. For the first day of racing, the Austrian and the Dane was joined by the home skater Max Kniel and the Norwegian Trygve Christiansen, who resided in the country. And Bohrer as it turned out was to get his hands full with the Dane. Ice conditions back home in Klagenfurt had been poor and his training likewise, he had gained 10 kgs since last year.

The first pair saw Bohrer paired with Christiansen. The weather conditions weren’t excellent. The lovely Davos sun was hidden behind thick clouds and it was snowing quite copiously, so that in fact the skaters had a thin layer of snow to plow through. But neither this nor the added weight seemed to bother the Austrian, and he and his Norwegian pairmate both skated the races of their lives: 45,2 and 46,4.

In the final pair, Sørensen was troubled more than expected with Kniel, who skated his first senior race and improved his pb considerably, only a few meters behind the Dane.

Results, 500m
1.Thomas Bohrer       45,2 pb
2.Trygve Christiansen 46,4 pb
3.Ejnar Sørensen      49,0
4.Max Kniel           49,4 pb

This resulted in the same pairs for the 5000m, only in the opposite order. But the snow fell relentlessly, the track crew concentrated on the figure skating track on the rink field, where Opika von Meray Horvath and the other contestants in the female World Championship did their compulsory figures along with 6 male juniors, cheered by a substantial crowd. The speedskaters had to plow through thick layers of snow. Sørensen beat his Swiss pairmate by nearly a lap this time, but clocked only 9.21. This was enough to win, however, as Bohrer only made 9.28 in the final pair.

Results, 5000 m
1.Sørensen     9.21,0
2.Bohrer       9.28,0
3.Christiansen 9.40,0
4.Kniel       10.05,2 pb

Henning Olsen, the newly dethroned national champion and equally dethroned double national record holder, had asked leave from his job, exceptionally, to go abroad and participate in speedskating. He went all by himself and didn’t include a masseur or a club representative like Oscar did, and the arena was a little more prosaic, too, the Hammarby lake in Stockholm, where Hammarby IF arranged an international meet, and where Olsen was the only international participant, invited and paid for by the organisers. The ice conditions and the weather were good, the band played well and the atmosphere could have been great if any appreciable amount of spectators had bothered to appear. The few present were additionally harrassed by a needless series of longish pauses that amounted to a major annoyance in the cold.

In the first pair of the 500 m, Jean Pettersson beat Sven Lundgren and clocked 49,8. I don’t have a time for his pairmate. Olsen beat Oscar Ericson well in the 2nd pair, taking the lead with 48,6. But Otto Andersson, best of the Swedes the last few years, did one better and reconquered the lead for the Swedes with 47,6, only 4/10 behind his lowland pb, in a pair with Albert Berglund who skated 49,9. Best time of the other pairs went to Ernst Cederlöf, who clocked 49,2.

500 m
1.Otto Andersson  47,6
2.Henning Olsen   48,6
3.Ernst Cederlöf  49,2 pb
4.Jean Pettersson 49,8
5.Albert Berglund 49,9
6.Alexis Ekström  52,0 pb
Unfortunately that’s all the times I have. Please feel free to get in touch if you have more.

Probably, Berglund and Ekström were paired in the 5000 m, and this time the latter won in 9.37,9 while Berglund had 9.55,6. Jean Pettersson can be assumed to have met Cederlöf, who beat him by a straight and a half; their times 9.36,4 and 9.20,2. The clash of Olsen and Andersson was entertaining. Lap by lap they skated side by side. But just like the Kristianians, the citizens of Nykšping had had a poor early winter, and Andersson lost the suppleness in his step sooner than he used to the seasons before. The Nordbagge built up a lead, which grew to 10 meters. But in the end, the home favourite mustered his usual and characteristically Swedish strong finish and made up nearly all his deficit.

1.Olsen        9.13,8
2.Andersson    9.14,0
3.Cederlöf     9.20,2 pb
4.Pettersson   9.36,4
5.Ekstrøm      9.37,9 pb
6.Henrik MorŽn 9.40,6 pb
Berglund       9.55,6

In the old Norwegian navy town Horten, the weather was beautiful and sunny for the national races arranged by the newly-born local club. The newspapers claim that rinkmaster Johansen had made first class ice with his “freezing machine”(!!) Whatever that could mean(???) Skaters and officials agreed that it was top standard. The atmosphere was magical this sunny late January Saturday. The stands were full of shiny-buttoned young navy men and just as shiny girl eyes, a far cry from the stingy cold and foggy home of the Kristiania journalists, where the damp air stank with coal dust. Here the skaters glided over a shiny, glittering icy surface, bathing in sunshine, ladies’ smiles and merry youthful excitement, who could be happier?

Johannessen, who is described as resilient and likeable, and Lundgreen, whose strides are characterised as long and tenacious, were paired in the 500m. Here, Johannessen had a near-fall and fell far behind, while Lundgreen clocked 48,0, a time beaten only by Thoresen.
500 m
1.Thoralf Thoresen.KSK            46,8 pb
2.Trygve Lundgreen.KSK            48,0 eq.pb
Magnus Herseth.KSK                48,0
4.Aksel Mathiesen.KSK             48,4 pb
5.Ole Kristian Kristiansen.Horten 51,4 pb
6.Stener Johannessen.KSK          53,4
Stener Johannessen on the starting line

Johannessen and Lundgreen were drawn together in the 10000 m as well, and this turned out to be a dramatic affair where it soon became clear that the national record was at stake. The race provided the best possible entertainment for the youthful audience, with every lap (evidently a bit more than 400m) hotly contested. At first Lundgreen took a lead using a fast opening pace with 44 laps, then Johannessen attacked and increased his lead to 3 second with a series of 44s. But then he tired and slackened to 46-47, and when Lundgreen set in another attack with 45 and 44 again in the 14th and 15th laps, he gained a 2 second lead (the 4 in the 18th lap must be wrong). Both were tired now, but the resilient Johannessen fought back, and 2 laps before the end they were equal again after a 45.5 lap. The penultimate lap was as fast as 45 for them both; still side by side. But in the final lap Johannessen proved the stronger and regained the national record that his pairmate had robbed him of last year.

A historical and wonderfully exciting race that was to cement the popularity of skating in the town for decades. With his time, Johannessen climbed to 9th place in the world list in the distance and as high as 4th place in the lowland list, with only Eden, Strunnikov and Burnov ahead. Lundgreen climbed to 20th place in Adelskalenderen, ahead of Peter Sinnerud.

56-1.38  -2.21-3.05  -3.49,5-4.34-5.19,5-6.05-6.50,5-7.36-8.21-9.06-9.52  -10.37-11.21-12.08-12.55  -13.42 -14.28  -15.14-16.01  -16.48-17.33-18.20,8
As usual the reason for the poor last laps probably is the splittimes being taken by journalists with unaccredited watches, while the final times are the official ones.

I have splittimes for the other pairs as well, but not the pairings.
62-1.53-2.42-3.31,5-4.20,5-5.10,5-6.02-6.54-7.46-8.38-9.30-10.23 gave up.
1.Johannessen 18.20,2 NR pb
2.Lundgreen   18.20,8 pb
3.Mathiesen   19.32,0 pb
4.Kristiansen 19.52,8 pb
5.Thoresen    20.57,3 pb
Herseth dnf
Gunerius Schou won a junior 1500m in 2.35,7 after the senior 500m.