Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Water games at Frogner

The match of the Finlander Cup had been the most popular skating competition in Kristiania the last few years. With only four pairs in each distance and no 10000m, also with the longest distance, the 5000m, being skated on Saturday when most people were at work, the races were no endurance test for anybody, not even the most restless and thinly dressed bodies. This was the way things had been. But the 10000m in the recent World Championship had been an eye-opener, and more was to come. Many had been taught the art of writing splittimes, and the Kristiania spectators were soon to acquire a different approach to long distance skating.

Anyway the program this weekend included no 10000 meter. And perhaps it was just as well, since the first spring thaw already had gone on for a week, and Saturday dawned with pouring rain. Hours before the races the rink crew was busy shifting the water down in huge cutoffs to lead it away from the track. But to little avail, and when the races started at half past two, the track was completely covered by water so that all the numerous irregularities in the ice were completely invisible to the skaters. Lady luck seemed likely to be the main item on the cast here, but did anyone even consider cancelling? Oh no, and the crowds showed up by the thousands, bringing their umbrellas and their oil-impregnated raincoats with them.

These races were the third match over the third Finlander Cup. The first one had been won by the Finns in 1905, the second by KSK in 1909, and now both parties had one share each in the third one. The last three seasons the Finns had been quieter than usual, but now there were signs of life again, with the old champion Strömstén as a beacon light. But in the Kristiania team Olsen was back, and under normal circumstances it would take much to threaten them. The conditions this Saturday were not normal, however.

First pair out were Strömstén and Johannessen, who skated cautiously to avoid all the pitfalls lurking around the ice. In the next to last lap the Finn went ahead in the curve and got a lead that he held to the finish. The time was 12.11,7.

Large pieces of burlap were drawn across the track to remove most of the slush before the next pair started. They were Wickström and Lundgreen, who stood at the starting line shaking their heads and smiling. The ice was now already visibly deteriorated after the icebreaking work of the first pair. Wickström used 4mm blades to keep his balance better, and made it through the whole race without falling. Lundgreen jumped and skipped to avoid the worst holes, but went down with a splash in the 5th lap. Soaking wet he continued, but couldn’t make even a whole lap before he went down again. Three more times the same thing happened. Still the soaked Norwegian only finished 12 seconds behind his pairmate, before he went straight to the dressing room and the nearest towel.

Then it was Oscar’s turn against the young Walter Tverin, both in the same mirthful mood as the former pair. But after a couple of laps the smile had tightened a little on the face of the Finn, who had already had a couple of close encounters with the liquid element. Oscar by then was a 100 meters ahead, and exploited his skating skills to the foremost on the uptrodden and irregular ice. He overtook Tverin in the 8th lap and splashed his way to the best time of the day in ice conditions already much inferior to the ones of the 1st pair. Very possibly the race of the year.

In the last pair, Lindholm and Olsen had hopeless conditions. Olsen took the lead, but fell in the 6th lap. In the 7th he fell twice and was overtaken by the Finn. He gave up in the 9th lap and let Lindholm finish alone in well over 14 minutes, after only two falls.
1.Oscar Mathisen.KSK     12.09,4
2.Gunnar Strömstén.HSK   12.11,7
3.Stener Johannessen.KSK 12.14,3
4.VŠinö Wickström.HSK    12.49,1
5.Trygve Lundgren.KSK    13.01,4fffff
6.Walter Tverin.HSK      13.27,0ff
7.Axel Lindholm.HSK      14.36,2ff
Henning Olsen.KSK fff, dnf

KSK - HSK 9 - 12
Sunday came with no improvement in the weather conditions, rather the opposite. Still the stands were well-filled, if not exactly as in the recent World Championship. Regular waterfalls fell over the forest of umbrellas as the starting bell rang at 1 pm, an almost tropical rain, and all common sense called for cancellation. But thousands had bought tickets, and you could not disappoint them, or maybe the thought of opening the club treasury to pay back entry fees was the more repugnant thought. Officials carried the skaters in and out of the track to relieve them of having to walking through the deep snow slush around it with their skates on.

Water sport at Frogner, from Oscar Mathisen, Mitt livs løp
Wickström and Johannessen were the first pair, and the Norwegian fared best from the water sport exercise, in 63 seconds flat. 2nd pair were Tverin and Lundgreen, and here the Finn did best, at 63,8. In the 3rd pair, Olsen had adopted even shorter strokes than usual, and slipped stealthily between the ice holes in a time as good as 61,0, whereas Lindholm was far behind, significantly also behind Johannessen. Last pair was Oscar and Strömstén, with first outer for Oscar. The champion was disadvantaged here from the start, both because he was heavier and because the outer part of the northern curve was particularly bad. (Evidently we can conclude that the finish and the 500m start was on the Kirkeveien side of the track.) He was 30 meters behind his pairmate at the start of the back straight. Eyebrows were lifted on the stands—n’Oscar was going to get beaten for the first time this season. But on the staight he raced furiously through the waves and went into the last straight side by side with the Finn. At the line he clocked 58,6—by far the best time of the day.
1.Oscar Mathisen.KSK     58,6
2.Henning Olsen.KSK      61,0
3.Gunnar Strömstén.HSK   61,8
4.Stener Johannessen.KSK 63,0
5.Axel Lindholm.HSK      63,3
6.VŠinö Wickström.HSK    63,7
7.Walter Tverin.HSK      63,8
8.Trygve Lundgren.KSK    64,8

KSK - HSK 7 - 14, sum 16 - 26
The same pair opened the 1500m, again with Oscar in the first outer lane. He had just passed the 300m with a clear lead when it happened. He stepped in a hole, splashed headlong on his belly and sailed squelchily through the waters with the wake billowing out behind him. On the stands people pointed and laughed, but Oscar crawled up again, went on doggedly and beat his pairmate by 50 meters.

In the second pair, Olsen won narrowly over Lindholm, both in times over 3.40. Johannessen and Wickström skated side by side for a while until the Norwegian also took a dive, and the Finn finished in the 2nd best time so far: 3.37,3. Tverin and Lundgreen only played jokes and clowned through the last pair. After all the club match was decided and the combined skating and swimming event was finally brought to an end.
1.Oscar Mathisen.KSK     3.32,0f
2.VŠinö Wickström.HSK    3.37,3
3.Gunnar Strömstén.HSK   3.39,0
4.Henning Olsen.KSK      3.40,7
5.Axel Lindholm.HSK      3.41,2
6.Stener Johannessen.KSK 3.43,3f
7.Walter Tverin.HSK      3.46,1
8.Trygve Lundgren.KSK    3.58,8

KSK - HSK 11 - 10, final sum 27 - 36