Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

Trondhjem trip

It was Friday, February 5th, and the Trondhjem newspapers published prominently, if not exactly on their front pages: Oscar Mathisen is in town. The club had invited to a national meet. European Championships and World ones were off for the time being, and you must take what you can get. And what you did get wasn’t that bad. Along with Mathisen all other skaters in the country of any stature arrived, Strøm of Horten, the young Johansen of Hamar and a couple of clubmates of Oscar’s. Their task was to measure up to the depth of the Trøndissh skating scene on their home ice.

The newspapers discussed the outlook in column after column. In every tavern and every corner of the homes the chances of the local and visiting skaters were analysed. The champion seemed weaker in the long distances these days. And would the attacks launched at him there succeed? The sensations so far this winter had energised the enthusiasm for skating. The Norwegians had been inferior in the long distances, with Oscar as the exception. They struggled to get below 9 minutes in the 5000m while Russians and Finns skated 8.41 and 8.46. But now, Aune had made his 8.33 and last Saturday, Strøm had sensationally skated 8.47,6 at home in Horten with all the best Norwegians present except Oscar Mathisen. The new favourite of the Trønders, Sverre Aune, fell in that race, but now he was ready for revenge. Only problem: he had reported a cold the last days before the meet.

That Horten meet must be the one referred to in Oscar’s memoirs. He stayed home because his flu had set him back some. But then a letter arrived from the Horten club. Their language was pretty straight. Was he ready to “watch the Hortens skating club go to the dogs?”, Well, it must be hoped that the sensational race of their own skater Strøm could save them.

Unfortunately the weather gods did not smile to the skaters and the event organisers this time either. The temperature had been above freezing in the daytime, water put on the track didn’t freeze properly and the ice was crusty and brittle. Not good for the heaviest skaters. On Saturday an strong gale made conditions unpleasant for the skaters and the audience was well. The meet started at 12 with compulsive figures for the really big figure skating enthusiasts. Speedskating from 2 p.m. with the senior 500m as the first distance. Tickets were cheaper than in Kristiania: upper stands 1 krone, at the finish 1 krone, around the track 50 øre, 25 øre for kids. A substantial crowd encircled the track when the bell rang for the start at 2.

In the first pair the organisers as usual had set up the home favourite Sverre Aune againt the top visiting skater Oscar Mathisen. But maybe they would have been better advised to put Martin Sæterhaug up against him, because these two were pretty unequal in the 500m. Oscar powered around the track in his usual style and the meters multiplied fast between the two opponents. 47,3 was Oscar’s time on the loose ice. Aune clocked 50,8. The organisers hadn’t had a really god hand with the draw and the rest of the pairs were pretty unequal, too. Any uncertainty of the outcome was witnessed only in the Sæterhaug-Strøm pair, where the home skater only secured the win through a extra long final effort. To the surprise of everyone present he didn’t finish second, as the 18 year old Johansen was one tenth ahead.

Results, 500m:
1.Oscar Mathisen      47,3
2.Melvin Johansen     49,1
3.Martin Sæterhaug    49,2
4.Sigurd Syversen     49,6
Johan Sæterhaug       49,6
6.Kristian Strøm      50,4
7.Sverre Aune         50,8

In the interval before the 5000m, ten juniors, most of them local, skated a 1500m, won by Einar Sæther, the youngest of them all at 17, clocking 2.37,2, slightly behind his pb. In the 5000m, Oscar Mathisen again had drawn the first pair along with young Melvin Johansen, #2 in the 500m. The gale had lessened some and skating was easier. Happy to skate against the more than famous Oscar Mathisen, the abmitous and technically accomplished youngster skated with some aggression from the start, then hugged the heels of the champion closely for the next laps. Oscar let him stay there and didn’t make a very high pace. Laptimes went up to 44-45. Only when Johansen finally let go during the 7th lap, Oscar started accelerating again. Now he went down to 43 and the two last laps were 42. The time was just over 9. Good under the circumstances, but good enough to win? There were two guys here who would challenge it strongly.


2nd pair featured Sigurd Syversen and one of the challengers, Kristian Strøm. Syversen tried fto follow for a few laps, but soon gave in. Strøm equalled Oscar dring the first laps. Then he took advantage of Oscar’s weak laps and built a lead of at most 5 seconds. Through the next laps it decresed: 4, 4, 3 and 2 seconds at 4600. Could he withstand the last sprint of Oscar? Yes, he did, after a 42,6 last lap he finished in 8.59,6.


Third pair was a brotherly Sæterhaug clash, Martin and Johan. Young Johan tried to keep up from the start, but soon had to wave goodbye. Martin couldn’t keep up with the top two either. He concentrated on Johansen and finished better than him to draw level after day 1.

Martin Sæterhaug
Johan Sæterhaug

Having finished last in the 500m, Sverre Aune was obliged to skate alone in the tenfold distance. He opened well and was 3 ahead of Strøm at 1400 meters. But in the 3rd lap apparently he got a strong gust of wind or something, and the laptime suddenly went up to 46. It normalised afterwards, but he never was able to get ahead again, and lost ground towards the end. Genuinely beaten this time. Or maybe it was the cold.

Results 5000m:
1.Kristian Strøm      8.59,6
2.Oscar Mathisen      9.01,2
3.Sverre Aune         9.06,2
4.Martin Sæterhaug    9.22,3
5.Melvin Johansen     9.26,2
6.Sigurd Syversen     9.30,5
7.Johan Sæterhaug     9.46,2
1.Oscar Mathisen       3
2.Martin Sæterhaug     7
Kristian Strøm         7
Melvin Johansen        7
5.Sverre Aune         10
6.Sigurd Syversen     10.5
7.Johan Sæterhaug     11.5

The races continue tomorrow at. 12:15 with the 1500 and 10000m. Figure skating and 500m junior in the interval. Draw: 1500 m Mathisen-Johansen, Syversen-Strøm, Sæterhaug-Sæterhaug, Aune alone; 10000 m Strøm-Mathisen (the clou of the meet), Aune-M Sæterhaug, Johansen-Syversen, J Sæterhaug alone.