Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary


On the Sunday a 100 years ago today, the weather and the ice at the national championship in Horten had improved considerably. The wind was a bit kinder and there was only a little snow, just a few flurries during the 1500m and a shower just before the 5000. The Hortensers were really on their feet this weekend, and visitors came in droves too, every hotel was full, trains and the Bastø ferry across the fjord were overloaded. When the time of the start approached at 1 o’clock, close to 5000 tickets were sold, a crowd the size of which the small town of only 10 thousand inhabitants had never seen before.

My sources conflict a little as to the sequence of the 1500 m pairs, but I assume that Johannessen and Schou were the first, and not Frang and Strøm as other sources claim. Anyhow the pair made a tight battle out of it, undecided right until the end. The more experienced Johannessen won, but had to work for his victory. The times were 2.38,0 and 2.38,1.

Then time was up for the man who had magnetically attracted all those masses. The Ice Majesty himself, paired with Sæterhaug, not for the first time. The necks grew long and the eyes stiff among the ranks on the stands if we are to believe the reporters.

The flag falls and the duelants are off, one with his characteristic imperious, heavy moves, the other more fierce, defiant, determined to defend the honour of Nidaros and the Trønders. Oscar speeds on with long, lashing strides and gets a lead that increases slowly at first, then faster.

Towards the end the lead grew rather large, bigger than usual. Sæterhaug often found his form late and the championship seemed to come too early for him. Oscar’s winning time, 2.29,1, was not bad though, at least it was well under the rink record of Lundgreen from last year at 2.30,5, under far better conditions.

Third pair (probably then) was Frang and Strøm, another close duel, where Frang had to fight for his win against a home favourite unwilling to let go. In the end he was beaten quite clearly though, and the time of 2.35,1 even saw Frang ahead of Sæterhaug. Strøm set a new personal best with 2.37,7, importantly just ahead of Johannessen, one of his closest rivals for the medal positions. Another of those rivals, Lundgreen, skated alone in the last pair and only managed 2.42,9, practically dropping out of this rivalry.

1.Oscar Mathisen     2.29,1 RR
2.Bjarne Frang       2.35,1
3.Martin Sæterhaug   2.36,9
4.Kristian Strøm     2.37,7 pb
5.Stener Johannessen 2.38,0
6.Gunerius Schou     2.38,1
7.Trygve Lundgreen   2.42,9
1.Oscar Mathisen      3
2.Martin Sæterhaug   10
3.Kristian Strøm     12
Bjarne Frang         12
5.Stener Johannessen 13.5
6.Trygve Lundgreen   16.5
7.Gunerius Schou     17

Oscar had reformed his pre-suspension habit of opening like a madman in the longer distances, and at first, Johannessen in the first pair of the 5000m had no problems following him and even took the lead at 1000m. But then the champion started 44 and 45 laps. His pairmate hung on for three more of them, but then had to let go. Oscar continued his 44s, added a 43 just before the end with a last one of 41.8 to finish well over half a lap ahead of his clubmate in 9.11,8, a time surely unapproachable to any skater present. Johannessen made 9.37,3.

Mathisen 67-1.53-2.37-3.22-4.07-4.51-5.35-6.19-7.03-7.46-8.30-9.11,8 Johannessen 67-1.52-2.38-3.24-4.09-4.56-5.43-6.30-7.17-8.04-8.51-9.37,3

Then Lundgreen and Strøm stand ready at the start with Lundgreen in the inner lane. The home favourite is new to this distance as well, still he is in for a chance of winning a medal spot in the championship. Johannessen is one who can stop him, and if so he needs one skater between himself and Strøm, then it will be lost for the latter. He was well behind both in the 10000m, but this is only half the distance, and if he could just hang on to his pairmate, you never knew how long it could last, and what he might achieve in the final lap.

The pace is high from the start, Lundgreen produces 45 laps. But the home favourite clings on and stays within reach, loudly encouraged by his fellow citizens. Then it slackens to 46 and 47 with a couple of 48s. Twice Strøm is even with Lundgreen to the delight of the audience, but mostly the Kristiania boy has a little lead. 5000 throats grow hoarse from shouting. Yet another lap the young boy stays on, and another. Rumours had gone around, but few expected the local boy to fight for the medals. Does he attack? No, does he lose touch? No, it’s the same, and when the last lap starts the 3rd prize winner of last year’s World Championship still has his little lead. On the back straight, Lundgreen has his pairmate in front of him, and sees his chance. They skate through the last curve with crowds screaming, and on the final straight, doesn’t the lead look bigger? But Strøm fights, he sees his chance now. Lose the pair, and the medal spot may be lost. He slowly draws closer again, and just ahead of the line they are even. Then Lundgreen pulls out a last trick from his more extensive repertoire, possibly a Börjes lunge if I understand the reports right, and decides the duel.

Disappointment for the home crowd and their favourite then, but at least they had seen a display that poured yet more oil on the fire of their enthusiasm that had been kindled in the fine national meet a year ago. And when the times were read, Strøm could smile after all, because they were both ahead of Johannessen: 9.34,9 and 9.35,0. Not a bad debut in the distance, which also gave him an Adelskalender entry at 111th or eleventyfirst place. If they had known, many of the witnesses of the spectacles would fully expect that the time when the first two figures would drop away might come rather sooner than later. For the moment, Oscar had no rival in the country, but maybe he’d get one pretty soon, and from a wholly unexpected place?

Lundgreen 67-1.52-2.37-3.23-4.10-4.56-5.44-6.30-7.16-8.04-8.50-9.34,9 Strøm 67-1.53-2.38-3.24-4.10-4.57-5.44-6.31-7.17-8.05-8.51-9.35

Sæterhaug in the 3rd pair now had to equal Johannessen to secure his 2nd prize. Not too difficult for a Sæterhaug in good shape, but he hadn’t seemed quite on par so far this championship. He also would secure his 2nd spot if he had a better total time than Strøm. But Strøm already had a better total time, 24.23,9 to 24.28,2, so Johannessen was the Trønder’s goal.

As it turned out, his pairmate Schou didn’t give him much help, as he fell already in the 2nd lap and later didn’t try to challenge. Sæterhaug opened fast and passed 1400m only a second behind Johannessen. But then he started to slip. Two laps later he was 6 seconds behind after a 48 and a 49. He continued to lose seconds per lap and at the last split he was 18 behind. A good last lap repaired a little, but not enough.

Sæterhaug 68-1.52-2.38 -3.25-4.13-5.02-5.50-6.39-7.27-8.17-9.09-9.53,2 Schou 68-1.53-2.45f-3.33-4.22-5.11-6.00-6.48-7.37-8.27-9.15-10.01,2f

Now Frang was the only one who could rob Strøm of his 2nd prize, but if so, he had to beat the Horten skater in the distance, which should be unlikely by the looks of things. More realistic perhaps was the 4th place of Johannessen, which he could conquer by beating Sæterhaug in the distance. After just a few laps of his solo race it was clear that Strøm was safe. And when he crossed the line slightly below 10 minutes, Johannessen also was beyond reach.

Frang 67-1.52-2.38-3,27-4.14-5.03-5.53-6.43-7.32-8.21-9.11-9.59
1.Oscar Mathisen     9.11,8
2.Trygve Lundgreen   9.34,9
3.Kristian Strøm     9.35,0 pb
4.Stener Johannessen 9.37,3
5.Martin Sæterhaug   9.53,3
6.Bjarne Frang       9.59,0
7.Gunerius Schou    10.01,2 f
Total points:
1.Oscar Mathisen      4
2.Kristian Strøm     15 (33.58,9)
3.Martin Sæterhaug   15 (34.21,5)
4.Stener Johannessen 17,5
5.Bjarne Frang       18
6.Trygve Lundgreen   18,5
7.Gunerius Schou     24

The 2500 m handicap race was dropped due to lack of interest from the skaters.

At 8 o’clock the same night they had the usual dance party at the engineer association’s premises. Officials at the event: Referees: engine merchant A Gresvig and master mason J Schwartz from Kristiania as well as F R Petersen from Hamar. Timekeepers: J Owren, Th B Paulsen and L Bjørnbak from Horten and Sigurd Mathisen, Hj Thorstensen and J Johansen from Kristiania. Starter: A Eckhardt, Kristiania, lap scorer G A Haraldsen, Horten, protocol keeper B Rotheim, Kristiania, physicial Dr. Svenson. The party as usual continued long into the night; food and drink flowed.

Meanwhile in Davos the conditions were still fine. Bohrer won the 1500m in 2.31,0 and also overall because the home skater Kniel wedged himself between him and the Englishman Dix in the 500m. Kniel set another two Swiss records in 2.34,2 and 19.24,0, jumping from 143rd to 51st place in Adelskalenderen. Dix also improved, from 86th to 53rd place with his new pb of 2.33,2 and 18.49,4 in addition to yesterday’s times, all three of his longest distances also setting best ever marks for British skaters. And his 10000m time was good enough for 33rd place in the all-time list.

Still the organisers weren’t completely happy. Bohrer did come close in the 500m, but all the other world records were unthreatened. And the former pretty list of Davos-Davos-Davos-Hamar-Davos had transformed to a less satisfactory list of Kristiania-Davos-Davos-Hamar-Kristiania since last February. Well, there was only one way to remedy that.