Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

And again and again!

The rains of Sunday evening thankfully were followed by wind and cooler weather, and the ice on Olympiastadion Monday morning was reasonably hard and smooth. Thus the event could proceed even if the ice was badly pitted on the back straight and alarmingly thin in the northern curve. The first event today was figure skating for women at 12 o’clock. That was too early on a Monday for any public interest, but as the start of the 1500m approached, they came trickling in, and at the start there were thousands on the stands. Evidently people here were curious about this duel between the Norwegian and the Russian, which was the real theme of the meet. All others were only extras.

The 1500 meter (supposedly) started with Ippolitov and Andersson, the latter being outskated somewhat properly and finished about a 100 meters behind. The time of 2.30,0 for the Russian was good under the thawing conditions. The following pair featured Mathisen and Sæterhaug, another uneven duel. Oscar traversed pits and slush at full steam and did take the lead, but not a big one: 2.29,2, and it was clear that the 2.22,2 of Ippolitov at Frogner was no coincidence. The Russian was a threat even in this distance.

It’s not clear from the account that these are the first two pairs, they’re only mentioned first. The only certainty is that they followed each other adjacently in the above order. Other mentioned pairs are: Wickström and Olsen, where the Finn got some payback after yesterday’s accident and went into third place with 2.35,2. Poss and Ericson did not mix with the best, and neither did Karlsson and Dix. Zerling and Axelsson fought well again, but this time with Zerling winning the final sprint in 2.37,0; outside the top 3, but better than the seasoned specialist Sæterhaug. Naidenov did not get any trouble from Carlsson, who fell, and he finished just behind Sæterhaug. Cederlöf surprisingly beat Strömstén, but with two falls the Finns couldn’t do better.

1.Oscar Mathisen     2.29,2
2.Vasilij Ippolitov  2.30,0
3.Väinö Wickström    2.35,2
4.Henning Olsen      2.35,9
5.Paul Zerling       2.37,0
6.Martin Sæterhaug   2.37,6
7.Nikita Najdenov    2.37,8
8.Petrus Axelson     2.38,0
9.Otto Andersson     2.41,8
10.Ernst Cederlöf    2.42,4
11.Paul Poss         2.45,2
12.Gunnar Strömstén  2.46,1f
13.Harald Karlsson   2.48,4
14.Oscar Ericson     2.49,0
15.Birger Carlsson   2.54,6f
16.Frederick W Dix   3.01,6 lowland pb
1.Oscar Mathisen      4
2.Vasilij Ippolitov   9
3.Henning Olsen      11
4.Väinö Wickström    17
5.Martin Sæterhaug   18
6.Paul Zerling       22
7.Petrus Axelson     23
Nikita Najdenov      23
9.Gunnar Strömstén   23.5
10.Ernst Cederlöf    25.5
11.Otto Andersson    26
12.Paul Poss         35
13.Harald Karlsson   38.5
14.Birger Carlsson   41.5
15.Oscar Ericson     43
16.Frederick W Dix   48

There then was a break for the men’s figure skating, where Salchow was the big home favourite. After this the thousands on the stands would disperse, it was presumed, but no. They stood through the following pairs figures and were at least as numerous when the 10000m started. They were waiting for the Mathisen-Ippolitov duel, finally the rivals were to meet.

However there were four other pairs before them, and the first was Strömstén against Olsen, from whom the Finn pulled away after a bit of struggle. The times were not good, 19.44,5 and 20.00,0. The temperature had gone up after the break, also the track was sandy after all the wind, revealed by frequent flashes from the skates in the deepening twilight. Every skater had round, smooth edges after the distance. 2nd pair was Axelson and Najdenov, who had (if we are to believe the report) two falls during his race, still he managed to humiliate the best home skater with 19.26,4 against 19.33,6. The third was Wickström and Andersson. The apparently untrained Andersson contributed little here and was beaten by nearly a full lap while the Finn snook half a second below his compatriot. The fourth pair was another Swedish humiliation in front of the home crowd waiting for the big showdown. Both Zerling and Cederlöf fell and finished well over 20 minutes.

Oscar Mathisen, fra Dagens NyheterIppolitov, fra Dagens NyheterFinally the hour of reckoning had arrived and hardly a soul had left the stands after hours of waiting. Oscar already had won the meet and was Nordic Champion as long as he could stay above 6th place in the 10000m. And according to his own memoirs he didn’t care so much about the duel. But standing there, probably in the inner lane, with his big rival beside him and not being set on beating him, well I don’t think that would be our Oscar. He wasn’t the Kramer of his time for nothing. So they got off, swinging through some wary laps, then some more. When would the attack come? The Swedish reporter reports them skating with long, surging strides, at a very hard speed concerning the conditions. Well, of course the ice was more worn, but in comparison with the rest of the field they ought to do 44 or 45 laps judging from the differences from the day before. Instead they did 46s and 47s, and soon were several seconds behind Najdenov, the leader so far. Perhaps it was a little beyond this audience to notice that, at least the reporter didn’t, but didn’t anybody on the strands bring watches and notebooks? Was the Swedish skating culture that different from the Norwegian? Still, if the race was somewhat slow and watchful, it was close and the outcome uncertain. The laps went by and never the difference was more than a couple of meters to either party. Ten minutes passed this way and still the outcome looked uncertain. Fifteen minutes approached. Many of the spectators were there to enjoy the fight between the two giants, some perhaps had grown fond of Oscar through this and other visits, others wanted the arrogant Norbagge to lose. Then the moment comes. In a carbon-copy of Oscar’s tactics from their first duel last weekend, Ippolitov attacks after crossing the line in the outer lane with 5 laps to go. He overtakes the surprised Oscar on the back straight and goes into the next curve ahead of him. Next split he has a 2 to 3 seconds lead with the audience cheering like mad, and he’s speeding on. Oscar tries to reply, but the Russian’s pace is too hard. On the back straight he’s far ahead and on the next he crosses ahead of Oscar. Two laps before the end they are (probably) equal to Najdenov, and at last Ippolitov crosses the line as the winner, again, in 19.18,6, to an applause rivalling that of Frogner the weekend before.

As a further boost to the Swedish good mood Paul Poss managed to beat Sæterhaug by nearly a full lap in a later pair.

1.Vasilij Ippolitov  19.18,6
2.Oscar Mathisen     19.22,2
3.Nikita Najdenov    19.26,4f
4.Petrus Axelson     19.33,6
5.Väinö Wickström    19.44,0
6.Gunnar Strömstén   19.44,5
7.Paul Poss          19.58,0
8.Henning Olsen      20.00,0
9.Paul Zerling       20.17,2f
10.Ernst Cederlöf    20.28,0f
11.Otto Andersson    20.29,0
12.Martin Sæterhaug  20.42,0
13.Birger Carlsson   21.16,0
Harald Karlsson dnf
Frederick W Dix dnf
Total points:
1.Oscar Mathisen      6
2.Vasilij Ippolitov  10
3.Henning Olsen      19
4.Väinö Wickström    22
5.Nikita Najdenov    26
6.Petrus Axelson     27
7.Gunnar Strömstén   29.5
8.Martin Sæterhaug   30
9.Paul Zerling       31
10.Ernst Cederlöf    35.5
11.Otto Andersson    37
12.Paul Poss         40
13.Birger Carlsson   51

Oscar decided to cut things short and go straight to St. Petersburg for the European Championship in two weeks, skipping the cup match at Frogner the weekend before.