Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Finns prevail

Conditions weren’t as good in the 2nd day of the Nordic Trophy match in Helsingfors as the day before. There was a bit of snowfall that turned into rain and the wind was annoying. But as could be expected, yesterday’s results had drawn quite a sizeable crowd out on the harbour ice. Estimates vary from 2500 to several thousand.

In the first pair of the 1500m, Strömstén in 2.37,5 easily beat the Swede Emerik Larsson at 2.44,1. Lundgreen fought hard with the best Swede Zerling in the 2nd pair, with the Swede finishing well and taking the lead in 2.36,8 with the Norwegian in 2.38,7. The bronze winner from Frogner, Wickström, was paired with yet another Swede, the long, slim Poss, who he defeated easily, taking the lead with 2.36,6. Next pair was Syversen and Skutnabb, now with a new nickname, the Finnish Ippolitov. Skutnabb skated powerfully and soon left the Norwegian behind. He set a strong new standard in a new personal best at 2.32,9, Syversen clocking 2.38,2. In the fifth pair the quick Norwegian Frang left Tverin well behind, and the Fin looked well beaten half-way. But some strong gusts of wind left the sprinter windless and Tverin overtook him in the last lap, powering home in a 2nd best time at 2.35,8, 3.3 ahead of Frang. Three Finns at the top of the list, and the situation looked rosy for the home team.

Then Oscar was ready along with the former European Champion Öholm. In an interview after yesterday’s races where he had lost two distances in a row for the first time since his comeback in 1912, he had declared that we would at least do his best to win this distance. And he kept his promise, displaying a pace quite standing out from what had been shown so far. After a strong finish he crossed the line in 2.28,9, more than 100 meters ahead of the Swedish veteran.

At least this secured the first place for his team, but with three eligible Finns and a Swede before his first teammate the outlook was bleak before the last distance.

1500 m:
1.Oscar Mathisen     2.28,9
2.Julius Skutnabb    2.32,9 pb
3.Walter Tverin      2.35,8
4.Wäinö Wickström    2.36,6
5.Paul Zerling       2.36,8
6.Gunnar Strömstén   2.37,5
7.Sigurd Syversen    2.38,2
8.Trygve Lundgreen   2.38,7
9.Bjarne Frang       2.39,1
10.Moje Öholm        2.43,2
Paul Poss            2.43,2
12.Emerik Larsson    2.44,1

HSK 9 KSK 14 SASK 22 / HSK 30 KSK 38 SASK 67

Then followed a long pause. First the substitutes Bergström and Lindholm skated their 1500 meters, which they did well in 2.35,0 and 2.35,2, another pb for the former. Then the masters did theirs, with the Norwegian Martinus Lørdahl winning the first pair in 2.59,0 against Theodor Baltscheffski 3.01,5. In the 2nd pair A. Brunström clocked 3.23,4 while Fredrik Liljeberg fell. Lørdal, who had two shares in the masters cup already, now won it outright. So far so good. But then the pause continued with a lot of figure skaters as well. 6 men were to do their pretty jumps and circles, and almost as many women and pairs. The crowd got audibly impatient. It was cold and unpleasant, and they wanted their 10000 meter! The pairs win by the Finnish World Champion pair Jakobsson and Jakobsson did not help much.

But their impatience was understandable, because when the bell finally rang for the 10000m start, the ones it called up were the World Champion Oscar Mathisen and yesterday’s sensation maker Julius Skutnabb. It was time to find out who really was the best in the world, and the crowd was optimistic. Of course the official title was safely in Oscar’s pocket, but Skutnabb evidently had not been able to do his best out there in Kristiania, possibly because he hadn’t gotten hold of his Hagen skates yet? The flag fell and the two rivals skated side by side for a few laps. The pace was high considering the conditions. But then the home favorite started pulling away. The World Champion didn’t have quite the usual briskness in his stroke. After all, he had intended to lay off for the season after the championship. Both he and Frang had required some serious persuasion to make them take part in this match. The difference increased lap by lap. The crowd encouraged their new darling with rhythmic shouts, “hei, hei, hei”. At the bell, the Norwegian was half a lap behind. Skutnabb finished well and under huge applause in 19.00,5, a fine time in these circumstances, only 2/10 behind his pb. Oscar clocked 19.22,2.

Strömstén and Syversen were the next pair. The Finnish veteran skated strongly and consistently with the young Norwegian falling steadily away and being lapped towards the end. And when the time was announced the crowd noted gleefully that Strömstén also had beaten Mathisen: 19.18,4. In the 3rd pair Tverin was set up against Öholm, but the former European Champion gave up early and the Finn had to skate more than half the distance alone, finishing in 19.54,8. In a later pair, possibly the fourth, Wickström, the last Finn, was set up against Zerling, the best of the Swedes. His goal was to beat Mathisen, too, like he had done in this distance at the World Championship. Doing his utmost he reached his goal, timed at 19.14,9, while Zerling was somewhat behind in 19.43,6. A Finnish treble with all the eligible Finns ahead of all the others! The remaining pairs were Lundgreen and Poss in 19.40,5 resp. 20.03,4, and Larsson and Frang, where the Swede finished in 20.59,0 while the Norwegian did not.

10000 m:
1.Julius Skutnabb    19.00,5
2.Wäinö Wickström    19.14,9
3.Gunnar Strömstén   19.18,4
4.Oscar Mathisen     19.22,2
5.Trygve Lundgreen   19.40,5
6.Paul Zerling       19.43,6
7.Walter Tverin      19.54,8
8.Paul Poss          20.03,4
9.Sigurd Syversen    20.11,5
10.Emerik Larsson    20.59,0
Bjarne Frang and Moje Öholm dnf

HSK 6 KSK 17 SASK 22 / HSK 36 KSK 55 SASK 89

A crushing Norwegian defeat in other words, and a brilliant Finnish victory, just as in the first leg of the Nordic Club Trophy the year before. Only one more now, and the Trophy would be Finnish property outright. The thousands around the track went home happy, knowing that Finnish skating had glorious times ahead. They just could not hold back a nagging sensation that something or other would happen to ruin the whole thing, as it tended to do habitually.

The substitutes Bergström and Lindholm skated an extra pair in the 10000m as well, but now the ice was worn and they could only manage 19.37,2, respectively 19.52,6. With his 3 new pbs, Skutnabb climbed into 30th place in Adelskalenderen while Bergström with his 2 climbed into 43rd.

Somewhat dejected, Oscar and Trygve Lundgreen (the three other Norwegians were to remain in Finland) sat and rocked on their seats in the trains back home to Kristiania. Oscar still was determined to concentrate on the national, European and World Championships from now on. Sigrid was unhappy with all his travelling and he wanted and needed her to be happy. But this experience of losing three out of four distances was annoying and then there were those Trønders who had been pestering him to come to their spring meet. After all he owed them some, having skipped their national championship to go to Davos and skate 2.17,4.

Meanwhile back home in Kristiania, 18 year old Frithjof Paulsen skated his first 5000m in 9.35,2 in the junior B class of a Frogner meet, well ahead of any of the junior A skaters. Apparently a good prospect.