Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

The art of warming Trønders

The ticket prices were considerably higher on the 2nd day of the national meet in Trondhjem: 1 kr and 50 øre on the upper stands, 1 kr and 50 øre at the finish, 1 kr around the track, 50 øre for kids. And the wind was as high and cold as the day before. Still the Trønders were flocking to the stands of old Øen stadion like never before. They were more than ten thousand, a record for the rink. Now that the international meets were gone they didn’t want to miss the big national ones. The war had just started, but chances were it might draw out now. Still territorial Norway was spared from it, but who could tell how the world conflagration might spread? And Norwegian sailors already had started sacrificing their lives at sea. You never knew when your turn would come.

The 1500m started at 12:15, and if the starting list that was published earlier the same day is correct (but the published 10000m starting list does not correspond to the reported starts in the next issue), Oscar Mathisen was featured in the first pair of this distance, too, again along with Melvin Johansen. And again Johansen was humiliatingly outskated by his perceived idol, finishing nearly a 100 meters behind the champion, who clocked 2.26,5, an excellent time in these conditions. The 2nd pair (according to the published list) was Syversen and Strøm. This pair was pretty close, but the Hortenser decided it towards the end and finished in 2.30,3—3 seconds ahead of his pairmate. Hm, interesting. Strøm had never been so close to Mathisen before. Could “hainn Martin” be in for a chance here? The answer was on hand in the next pair where the Sæterhaug brothers again were to meet. But it blew in the wind, as the Trønder veteran here had one of the very few falls during his long career. He got up quickly and did manage to beat his brother to the brother’s dismay, but only finished in 2.36,2. Alone in the last pair (according to the published starting list), Aune could not accomplish much, but a 4th place in 2.34,6 isn’t so bad after all.

Results 1500m:
1.Oscar Mathisen      2.26,5
2.Kristian Strøm      2.30,3
3.Sigurd Syversen     2.33,3
4.Sverre Aune         2.34,6
5.Melvin Johansen     2.35,5
6.Martin Sæterhaug    2.36,2f
7.Johan Sæterhaug     2.40,1
1.Oscar Mathisen       4
2.Kristian Strøm       9
3.Melvin Johansen     12
4.Martin Sæterhaug    13
5.Sigurd Syversen     13.5
6.Sverre Aune         14
7.Johan Sæterhaug     18.5

After a junior 500m won by Einar Sæther as usual, a bit of figure skating followed. But it failed to catch the attention of the crowd, who were impatient in the cold and windy weather, longing for the excitement of the 10000m. Sæther’s winning time of 51,1 indicated pretty severe conditions though, and they were in for some long 10000 meters. The first pair featured Syversen and Johansen, not their first encounter this winter. Syversen, who lost three duels against the teenager in a row during the last national championship, must have had some hope of turning this one to his advantage after his fine 1500m. But no, the Hamar skater raced well, and made quite a difference in the end. Their times were 19.25,5 and 19.43,0.

In pair two followed Oscar Mathisen and Kristian Strøm. And now the frozen audience got their heat up. Lap for lap the opponents followed each other. Oscar wanted to show a better long distance form than at Frogner, when he skated with a fever, and was the most aggressive part for most of the race. The pace was 46 with a sprinkle of 47s, indicating a final time of 19.10 to 19.15. The Hortenser waited patiently. In the 18th lap, he found the moment ripe. He set in a 44, and suddenly had a 20 meters gap. The reply came two laps after. Oscar made 44, too. But Strøm was prepared and made a 45. Next lap he was down in 44 again and the gap was 20 meters again. Another 45, and it was 30 meters. Seemingly the pair was his. The next two laps were 47s. But in the last lap Oscar sped up fabulously in his usual fashion. Kristian however knew what was coming and was ready for this, too. He held the champion off and secured the victory, in fair battle man to man this time.


Now speculation ran high along the stands, and the cups of karsk ran with it. What were the chances of Aune? It had been a tactical race. What could Aune accomplish with that steady, hard pace of his? Well, it seems he had it planned. For the first few laps he had the company of his pair- and clubmate Martin Sæterhaug, but the abilities of the latter in this distance were limited, and from the 5th lap the new long distance ace had to manage without his contributions. From then he set up a pace in 44s and 45s, and his advantage over the leaders began to increase dramatically. After 10 laps it was 8 seconds, then 10, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22. In the 17th lap the gale must have increased, and the laptimes went up to 47. The advantage started closing a little, but he managed to fight his way down to 45 again, to keep up with the hard finish of the leaders. In the last three laps however, the wind must have caught him again, or he was tired and/or satisfied/happy. His advantage was secure now. He finished in 19.00,7, more than 12 seconds ahead. The happiness of the crowd was endless.


In the last pair (or next to last), Johan Sæterhaug skated alone in 20.25,8.

Results 10000m:
1.Sverre Aune         19.00,7
2.Kristian Strøm      19.13,1
3.Oscar Mathisen      19.15,5
4.Melvin Johansen     19.25,5
5.Martin Sæterhaug    19.42,0
6.Sigurd Syversen     19.43,0
7.Johan Sæterhaug     20.25,8
Total points:
1.Oscar Mathisen       7
2.Kristian Strøm      11
3.Sverre Aune         15
4.Melvin Johansen     16
5.Martin Sæterhaug    18
6.Sigurd Syversen     19,5
7.Johan Sæterhaug     25,5

In the usual fashion the prizes were awarded at a lively banquet in an elegant location, away from the clutching hands of the common masses. But the party was more than usually common after all, as the entered attendees amounted to as many as 150. After all, how could you miss it when nobody knew when the next opportunity would arrive. And the orchestra played and the dancing continued well into the night.

The press concluded that the national meets rarely were as close and well fought as this one, and that Mathisen no longer was the invincible, but had to make way for the young. Except in the 500m, where his light, springy steps made him superior, and in the 1500m, where his elegant style and perfect technique made him the champion, the ideal. In contrast to the Kristiania sprinter, Strøm and Aune were the resilient, energetic long distance men, according to the Adresseavisen reporter, who gave Strøm, born in Melhus, his approval as full and adequate Trønder on equal footing with Aune. Only unfortunate circumstances forced him to Horten, where he had, through no fault of his own, to work in the market garden of his father, which happened to be located there.

Meanwhile at Frogner in Kristiania, an 18 year old from the traditional skating district Odalen won a 1000m (in the 14-16 year class) in 1.50,0 and skated his first 1500m in 2.55,7. Nice to try some longer distances, he thought. He had already skated a 500m in 57,2. His name? Ole Olsen.

And meanwhile in Helsingfors, a 22 years old former street thug by the name of Clas Thunberg improved his 1500m pb from 2.35,0 to 2.33,6 and climbed further up Adelskalenderen into 43rd place. He really seemed to take a liking to this distance.