Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary


Both Oscar and his clubmate Bjarne Frang had been travelling and skating a lot this memorable season, and now that the World title was secured, they felt like some bit of well-deserved rest would be in order. However, there remained a match in Helsingfors where a Nordic cup was at stake, and then there was the case of those poor Trønders, who had been let down so gravely at their national championship in January. So the club and townspeople in general set about to persuade them. Pleading visitors dropped in by the hour, full of pretty words, and some less pretty. And thus we find them bumping along the rails in their sleeper carriage through the dark Nordic winter nights again, Oscar, Bjarne Frang, Trygve Lundgreen and Sigurd Syversen. A couple of Trønders or a Hortensian would have been a welcome addition, because the Finnish team seemed strong. But this cup match was only an internal affair between the clubs of the Nordic capitals, as it had been from the start. There were some that advocated regular country matches organised by the federations, but the club matches were popular and the clubs did not fancy parting with any share of the income.

In contrast to several other of these matches the last few years, this one was not beset by thaw or rain and parodical ice conditions. The weather gods smiled kindly over Helsingfors, as they had done since the Figure skating World Championship held there last weekend, with Gösta Sandahl of Sweden as the winner. The ice on the Northern Harbour was glimmering and inviting, with some variable wind as the only disturbance. At least a thousand enthusiastic spectators enjoyed the late winter sun. Discussions and bets ran high, and the outlook for the various skaters were analysed thoroughly by the expert audience.

After the female figure skaters had completed their compulsory figures the races started at 3 p.m. with Walter Tverin and Emerik Larsson forming the first pair of the 500 m, won easily by the Finn at 46,4, a new personal best. Even the Swede equalled his pb. The 2nd pair was another Finnish-Swedish affair with Gunnar Strömstén and Paul Poss. Even here, the home skater won easily in 47,4.

In the 3rd pair the top home favourite was set up against the presumably best foreigner according to the usual practice, in this case the World Championship bronze medal winner Wäinö Wickström and the World Champion Oscar Mathisen. The home favourite fought well and the champion didn’t start to pull away until the last half of the race, winning it in 45,3, 7/10 under his own track record. Wickström had 46,5.

Next followed Bjarne Frang, who was not impressed. He had expected a 44 on this fine ice. He quickly did away with his pairmate, the former European Champion and 44 man Öholm, and after a fine sprinting display clocked 45,2, one tenth ahead of the World Champion and record holder.

In the 5th pair the best Swede Zerling fell and stopped his race, his Norwegian pairmate also disappointing with 48,6. And in the last pair Skutnabb beat Lundgreen by 47,2 to 48,6, making sure that the Norwegian 1-2 did not give them such a big points advantage after all.

1.Bjarne Frang       45,2 TR
2.Oscar Mathisen     45,3
3.Walter Tverin      46,4 pb
4.Wäinö Wickström    46,5
5.Julius Skutnabb    47,2 pb
6.Moje Öholm         47,3
7.Gunnar Strömstén   47,4
8.Trygve Lundgreen   48,6
Sigurd Syversen      48,6
10.Paul Poss         49,6
11.Emerik Larsson    49,9 eq. pb
Paul Zerling fell

KSK 10 HSK 12 SASK 23
Extra pair
1.Axel Lindholm      48,2
2.Waldemar Bergström 50,4 pb

In the interval the old heroes Theodor Baltscheffsky (49) and Martinus Lørdahl (40) skated a 1500 m in 3.01,5 and 2.59,0 respectively. And then the 5000m got under way with none other than the World Champion and record holder Oscar Mathisen in the first pair alongside Öholm. Oscar started in a moderate pace of 43–44, somewhat uncertain of his form after today’s defeat, then he felt more secure and sped up in the end so finish under 9 minutes: 8.59,1. A fine time. Öholm, nearly lapped, was cheered loudly by a small group of visiting Swedes for the rest of his race.

In the 2nd pair, Wickström also had a Swedish pairmate, the long-legged Paul Poss. The home favorite attacked Oscar’s time from the start, but could not match his fast finish and ended in 9.00,4, a new personal best, nearly half a lap ahead of the Swede. Tverin in the 3rd pair also set a new pb in 9.06,8, displaying a substantially improved long distance form, and importantly left the Norwegian sprinter Frang half a lap behind. In the 4th pair Larsson in a stiff, ineffectual style was no match for the old champion Strömstén, who finished in 9.05,9. Then Lundgreen, who had shown nothing like his old fine long distance form lately, did a good job for his club as he fended off the assault from the only Swede here of respectable class, Zerling, and finished in 9.01,1, 8.5 ahead of the Swede.

Busniess as usual so far. Except wasn’t the difference between the world record holder and the rest of the field kind of smaller than usual? The 25 years old newcomer Julius Skutnabb, who had a personal best time of 10.34,1 before the season started, stood ready in the last pair along with Sigurd Syversen, thinking that time was up to show what he really was good for. His current pb of 9.12,3 could have use for some overhaul. Rumours had circulated of spectacular training times, and a buzz of expectancy swirled around the circle of spectators as he started. And they were not disappointed. His laps were 41s and 42s from the start, and the audience screamed and cried, shaking their heads in disbelief. Those were world record laps, here in their old, cold arctic back yard! Surely he cannot make it? Midway his advantage on Mathisen was 15 seconds. And Skutnabb did not fail, he just pushed on. At the bell his advantage was nearly the same, and he skated his last 400 meters trailing the lapped Syversen under a continuous din from the crowd. Then followed some minutes of mute excitement while the timekeepers compared their watches and recorded their times. Finally the time was announced: 8.46,0 and 12 seconds under the former Finnish record of Wathén from 1903. The applause was deafening. And meanwhile, Syversen’s 9.24,9 meant trouble for his team.

Skutnabb on his way to 8.46,0

Now the Saturday races were over and people started going home. After all it was cold. But an extra pair was left, consisting of the home team substitutes Waldemar Bergström and Axel Lindholm. Bergström also had confidence in his form and wanted to se what this fine ice was good for. So he started out and soon realised that he could follow the splittimes of Skutnabb. Little by little the maelstrom of spectators leaving the track stopped, and the few hundred remaning realised that something special was at hand. Lap by lap went by and the difference never was more than a second. The small flock of spectors remaining cheered him on. With one lap to go he was one behind, and those with clocks in the crowd thought he would fail. But Bergström sprinted home with flair and sisu, and after finishing had to wait a good while as the timekeepers discussed the outcome. Finally the timing referee took the decision, saying: “It’s no use, we have to let them share the time.”

1.Julius Skutnabb    8.46,0 pb NR TR
2.Oscar Mathisen     8.59,1
3.Wäinö Wickström    9.00,4 pb
4.Trygve Lundgreen   9.01,1
5.Gunnar Strömstén   9.05,9
6.Walter Tverin      9.06,8 pb
7.Paul Zerling       9.09,6 pb
8.Paul Poss          9.18,6
9.Sigurd Syversen    9.24,9
10.Bjarne Frang      9.26,0
11.Moje Öholm        9.42,3
12.Emerik Larsson    9.42,9

HSK 9 KSK 14 SASK 22 / HSK 21 KSK 24 SASK 45
extra pair
1.Waldemar Bergström 8.46,0 pb eq. NR eq. BR
2.Axel Lindholm      9.13,0 p

The races continue tomorrow at 1 with a 1500 and a 10000 meter for the speedy skaters and another 1500 for the veterans, including A. Brunström and the 56 years old F. Liljeberg in addition to today’s pair. The free and the pairs skate for the figure skaters complete the programme.