Nordiska Spelen (Nordic Games) was a huge priority for the Swedish sporting community. They were the Swedish counterpart of the Olympic Games, held for the first time in 1901 and then with 4 year intervales like the original games. The fact that they now had arranged their own OG had not reduced their commitment to their Nordic ones, on the contrary, for the Stockholm Olympic Games had been so extraordinary successful and the Swedish sport leaders still walked dreamily in their cloud of glory. The were models for other sporting nations, and they hadn’t the slightest objection to demonstrating it again for the 2nd time in just over half a year. The old dream of gathering the Nordic countries together had suffered a small setback in 1905, but it lived on, and as things in the world at large were changing at ever more staggering and alarming speeds you never could tell when the Nordic nations one day could stand united and strong against the greedy continental powers, and then perhaps under the Swedish flag. Or maybe not. Not easy to tell.
The Norwegian team, consisting of Mathisen, Olsen and Sæterhaug, arrived Wednesday, and the Russians Ippolitov and Najdenov later the same day. The Finns sent Strömstén and Wickström. And on Friday the Englishman Dix turned up surprisingly. He had skated 18.49,4 in Davos and had the scalp of Bohrer in his belt, so maybe he could provide a surprise or two? Another thing that had been turned up was the temperature, it was +2,8 degrees (Centigrade) and periodic heavy rains, so the Olympic Stadium had turned into a little lake, where small curly waves hopped merrily around.
On Saturday the weather was the same, rain and wind with occasional sun. Tarpaulins were laid to protect the ice against the sun in the northwestern parts where it was exposed the most. Cancelling was an option, but the organisers came to an agreement with the skaters that they would postpone the meet one day and see how things were developing by tomorrow. Meanwhile the newspapers filled their columns with tabulated vital statistics:
|Oscar Mathisen||Vasilij Ippolitov||Martin Sæterhaug|
|weight in kg||76,5||66||69,5|
|height in mm||1758||1754||1750|
|sitting height, mm||928||913||924|
|leg length, cm||83||84,1||82,6|
|exhaled chest, cm||91||84||91|
|inhaled chest, cm||103||96||97|
|upper arm r, cm||30||28||29|
|upper arm l, cm||30||28||28,5|
|forearm r, cm||29,5||28||28|
|forearm l, cm||29,5||28||27,8|
|thigh r, cm||57||53||55|
|thigh l, cm||58||53,5||55|
|calf r, cm||38||36||37,5|
|calf l, cm||38||36||37,5|
|pull-ups in trapeze, forearm r||150||140||180|
|pull-ups in trapeze, forearm l||150||125||180|
|blood pressure before 5000 m||105||109||-|
|blood pressure after 5000 m||107||141||-|
|resp. vital capacity, cm³||5500||4500||4500|
Wonder how this compares to skaters of today. Some of the data are obviously faulty, like the pulse and blood pressure. And what are those pull-ups? Others are more interesting.
Saturday night a gale started blowing from the southeast. But it was a dry gale, and as chairman Thue of the Norwegian skating association inspected the ice Sunday morning, he found it acceptable for races. The wind had dried up the water and the ice was firm and useable below, a little rotten only to the northwest. Because of this fault it was decided to send the skaters out one by one, same way as the Swedish championship last weekend. Moje Öholm, the old European champion, who had skated a good 500m this season in 46,8, but didn’t have allround ambitions anymore, was placed in the curve to direct the skaters where to go to avoid the worst holes. The Olympic stands were well filled when the races started, about a 10000-sized crowd. Figure skating, the Swedish specialty, also was on the programme.
Ippolitov skated early and finished in 48,0. He had been beaten more than once when Oscar finished in 45,4, taking the lead, so the dream of the organisers to have them paired in the 5000m was not to be. Later, Sæterhaug skated 46,6 and won the 2nd prize.
Results: 1.Oscar Mathisen 45,4 2.Martin Sæterhaug 46,6 3.Väinö Wickström 47,4 4.Henning Olsen 47,6 5.Otto Andersson 47,8 6.Vasilij Ippolitov 48,0 7.Gunnar Strömstén 49,3 Ernst Cederlöf 49,3 9.Petrus Axelson 49,4 10.Paul Zerling 50,1 11.Nikita Najdenov 50,3 12.Birger Carlsson 51,0 Harald Karlsson 51,0 14.Oscar Ericson 51,5 15.Paul Poss 52,2 16.Frederick W Dix 53,0 lowland pb (in fact his first lowland metric result)
In order to get the meet over with in reasonable time, the 5000m was started pairwise. Thankfully now it was a little colder, and the ice a little firmer. First pair was Axelson and Zerling. They skated lap by lap side by side like good friends. According to the journalist Zerling had improved his style considerably since last year, with freer movements and better knee angle. But Axelson’s superior power decided the match in the end and they finished in 9.27,5 and 9.28,5. 2nd pair was Ippolitov and Andersson. The Swede hung on for a couple of laps, then lost his elasticity and fell behind. The Russian “flew” over the rink in the way reporters habitually put it when the race was something extra, with long, winning strides. The last laps he accelerated even more and finished in 8.58,1, more than a lap ahead of the old Swedish champion, who seemed to have problems finding his old form. Third pair was Najdenov and Carlsson, won by the Russian easily to finish in 2nd position so far with 9.27,2. In the 4th pair the Englishman Dix was a huge disappointment, as the teenager Karlsson from Köping brushed him off easily, despite barely finishing below 10 minutes. These were his first lowland metric races, and looks like he had to learn it all over again with this ice. In the 5th pair, Wickström fell just after the start and didn’t try to challenge Olsen, who skated well and took over 2nd place with 9.23,5.
At last this evening’s pièce de resistance was under way. Oscar Mathisen and Sæterhaug. In order to obtain some assurance against what nearly happened in Trondhjem, he had allies in the shape of the NSF secretary Axel Gresvig on the back straight and his physio Dr. Enger in one curve. Such help was illegal, which is why Oscar doesn’t discuss it in his memoirs, but everyone used it, and the Swedish press mentions it openly. Oscar, or Oscar the 1st as his friends called him according to the newspaper, got some pacing help from his pairmate, too, but only for a couple of laps. The paper reports his strides as long and powerful with the most brilliant technique. Himself he thought he had done well, but his helpers had failed to account for the strong finish of Ippolitov, and he was surprised and dismayed to see the little boy scout climb up the scoreboard ladder with a figure 9 in his hand. So he was beaten again, then. Maybe the ice was more worn, hard to tell. Maybe the slightly colder weather had more or less compensated for the wear, hard to tell also.
In the 7th pair, Poss skated reasonably well in 9.37,4 while his pairmate Oscar Ericson finished over 10 minutes. In the last pair, Strömstén and Cederlöf gave a good fight with the foreigner again finishing best, attempting to beat Olsen, but unsuccessfully.
Results: 1.Vasilij Ippolitov 8.58,1 2.Oscar Mathisen 9.04,9 3.Henning Olsen 9.23,5 4.Gunnar Strömstén 9.24,0 5.Nikita Najdenov 9.27,2 6.Petrus Axelson 9.27,5 7.Paul Zerling 9.28,5 8.Ernst Cederlöf 9.31,5 9.Paul Poss 9.37,4 10.Martin Sæterhaug 9.39,3 11.Väinö Wickström 9.51,6f 12.Otto Andersson 9.51,9 13.Harald Karlsson 9.53,8 14.Birger Carlsson 9.58,3 15.Oscar Ericson 10.08,0 16.Frederick W Dix 10.28,0 lowland pb
Overall: 1.Oscar Mathisen 3 2.Vasilij Ippolitov 7 3.Henning Olsen 7 4.Gunnar Strömstén 11.5 5.Martin Sæterhaug 12 6.Väinö Wickström 14 7.Petrus Axelson 15 8.Ernst Cederlöf 15.5 9.Nikita Najdenov 16 10.Paul Zerling 17 Otto Andersson 17 12.Paul Poss 24 13.Harald Karlsson 25.5 14.Birger Carlsson 26.5 15.Oscar Ericson 29 16.Frederick W Dix 32
Towards evening there’s rain and slush, and the outlook for tomorrow is uncertain.