Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary


Oscar Mathisen had spent a week training on Steiner Teich and enjoying some freshening up of his fond memories from 1908 down in Klagenfurt. Just like then he had two travelling companions, but unlike then the companions were his physio and team leader, not his teammates. In 1908, he, Sigurd and Martin had travelled on 3rd class tickets, sometimes in windowless wagons fit only for cattle. Things had changed since then.

Oscar, from
The temperature had dropped these last few days and Wörthersee had finally started to freeze, but not enough to move the championship back to the lake. This cold front, which ran the temperature down into the 30s (centigrade) in Russia and Finland and gave the Berliners 40 cms of ice to skate on at Wannsee, also pushed up some powerful precipitation clouds in its outskirts, and on Thursday it started to snow in Klagenfurt. It continued all Friday as well, interrupting the training laps on Steiner Teich. In the evening the draw was made with 30 cms of snow outside the hotel windows, an easy task with only 4 participants. As usual the home favourite was set against the best foreigner, this time in the first pair with Oscar starting in the inner lane. 2nd pair then was Sørensen and Naidenov. The 5000 and 1500 m were to be set up according to the results of the 500m, and the 10000m similarly on the basis of the 5000.

It snowed on through the night, and next morning the situationit had started looking critical. The championship organisers called up 60 workers to try and clear it, but the sky spewed ever more big fluffy crystals and the workers could not keep up with them. They barely managed to clear a small patch for the figure skaters, and the speedskating was postponed until late afternoon. Then, 80 soldiers were called up to clear the track. But towards noon a wind sprang up, and soon it blew in gusts of hefty gale. Pretty unpleasant for the hard-working soldiers, and the snowfall didn’t ease either, it fell rather heavier than before. So heavy in fact that the water from below started trickling on the ice surface, pressed up by the weight of the snow. The organisers decided to cut the track loose to rescue it. But daylight waned and their hopes of getting the track ready for the championship waned with it. A proposition to arrange all four races the day after was put before the skaters. Only one of them was skeptical. Oscar himself. Tired with the whole business he rather wanted to get back home and prepare for the European Championship next weekend at Stockholm. The evening passed with snow flurries drifting past the hotel windows like white flapping chickbirds in the lamplight.