Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

And again!

Nordiska SpelenNordiska 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.

Dix, the famous Englishman, from Dagens NyheterThe 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 MathisenVasilij IppolitovMartin Sæterhaug
weight in kg76,56669,5
height in mm175817541750
sitting height, mm928913924
leg length, cm8384,182,6
exhaled chest, cm918491
inhaled chest, cm1039697
waist, cm766673
neck, cm35--
upper arm r, cm302829
upper arm l, cm302828,5
forearm r, cm29,52828
forearm l, cm29,52827,8
thigh r, cm575355
thigh l, cm5853,555
calf r, cm383637,5
calf l, cm383637,5
pull-ups in trapeze, forearm r150140180
pull-ups in trapeze, forearm l150125180
blood pressure before 5000 m105109-
blood pressure after 5000 m107141-
resp. vital capacity, cm³550045004500

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.

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)

Axelson, from Dagens NyheterIn 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.

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
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.