Oscar Mathisen
Speedskating - Oscar Diary

The invincible after all?

The next skirmishes on the skating front in 1915 were the races for the Frogner rink challenge trophy. The meet was announced as international, but the international presence was minimal, consisting only of a Swedish figure skater who had his flag hoisted amongst a sea of Norwegian ones. Again, all the best national skaters were present, still the spectator turnout was unspectacular. The stands were quite empty during the compulsory figures in the early afternoon, and when the bell sounded for the start of the races at half past two, some 1500 to 2000 had assembled. The weather wasn’t the best. It was cloudy with a drizzle of snow, but no wind to speak of, and the ice was hard and smooth.

I don’t have any detailed pairings in the 500 m. All I know is that Martin Sæterhaug was paired with Sverre Aune and won, but not by more than some 15 meters, the times being 46,8 and 48,1, and that Bjarne Frang, however, outclassed the old sprinter Thoralf Thoresen, clocking 45,6. And if the usual practice of setting up the home favourite against the presumably best visiting skater was followed, as it was invariably, Oscar Mathisen must have been paired with Kristian Strøm, who got himself somewhat outclassed, too, as Oscar finished in 44,4. In another pair, Henning Olsen found some good form again and finished 3rd in 45,8.

Results 500m:
1.Oscar Mathisen      44,4
2.Bjarne Frang        45,6
3.Henning Olsen       45,8
4.Martin Sæterhaug    46,8
5.Gunerius Schou      47,0
6.Kristian Strøm      47,1
7.Sigurd Syversen     47,3
Thoralf Hansen        47,3
9.Sverre Aune         48,1
Gustav Gulbrandsen    48,1 pb
11.Ole Mamen          48,5 pb
12.Thoralf Thoresen   49,0

After a short interval with unknown content, the 10000 m started. In the first pair, Kristian Strøm was set up against Gunerius Schou, on the basis of the 500m results. Strøm was ambitious after his latest achievements, and set out in a world record pace. Schou let him go right away and eventually was beaten by two and a half laps. The splittime at 400m was 42 and the next few laps were 42s and 43s. At 2000m he clocked 3.32—one ahead of the world record. The crowd was incredulous, but noisy. But then he started losing ice, and the next 5 laps were 43s and 44s. At 4000m he was 7 behind the record in 7.10. He gave up on the record and the next five laps rose by yet one second, to 44s and 45s, splittime 10.53. But for the last 10 laps he stabilised in 45s, and after an 8000m split at 14.39, he finished in 18.25,4, a personal best by a fifth of a second.

In the 2nd pair, Oscar Mathisen was set up against Bjarne Frang. Of course this must be an uneven pair, too, and Frang could offer little in terms of pacing. For those privileged in the stands who had watches or stood near anyone who had, it was an exciting race still. Would he try to match the hard opening of Strøm? Turns out he didn’t. Already after the first lap he was two behind, then it increased to 4-4-5-6-6-7-7-7. But now the fast opening laps of the Hortenser were done, and Oscar could set in a counter-attack: 6-5-4-3-3. The attack had been tiring, however, and for the next few laps he didn’t gain anything: 4-5-5-4-5-6. But with only 5 laps to go he found the strength for a good finish: 5-4-2, and at the bell they were equal! Probably he was informed, and in the last lap he characteristically set up a pace that raised the noise level from the stands to a maximum. He finished in 18.21,6, with a last lap close to 40 if not under. He had proven something. Mathisen no longer the invincible, ha! Mathisen must make way for the young, ha! Now let’s see what they will write.

But he had one rival left. Before Aune’s pair, Martin Sæterhaug and Henning Olsen gave the audience a 20-odd minutes long break to spend giving off occasional encouraging shouts to the skaters and otherwise excitedly discussing Aune’s outlooks and passing around beef soup or other liquids. Martin skated reasonably well and finished in 19.02,7, lapping Olsen just at the end. Then finally it was Aune’s turn. He was paired with Gulbrandsen, who quickly let him go, for the Trønder opened fast, almost as fast as Strøm. And he kept it up better. After 10 laps he was ahead, and by then he was 7 in front of Mathisen, too. He can’t make it, the crowd mumbled. He can’t endure. But he kept the difference steady at 7 to 8 seconds until the 13th lap, when it started increasing: 9-9-11-12-12-13-14-15. In the last four laps Mathisen’s final effort eroded it a bit, but at the bell there were still 10 seconds left. More than three of them vanished in the last lap, but Aune finished in a new best time of 18.15,2, which was also a new pb that took him to 11th place in Adelskalenderen and as high as 5th place in Adelskalenderen lowland, with only Oscar, Ippolitov, Strunnikov and Eden in front of him. The time was good enough for 10th place in the all-time list and 7th place in the lowland all-time list, behind Oscar, Vasilij Ippolitov, Eden, Strunnikov, Platon Ippolitov and Strömstén. Ok, so you made it, Oscar thought. But let’s see what you can do tomorrow in the 5000m, head to head.

If the first four pairs were uneven the last two were even worse. Sigurd Syversen with 19.01,4 narrowly beat the time of Martin Sæterhaug while his pairmate Hansen gave up some time along the way. And as Thoresen did not feel prepared for the Scandinavian mile, Mamen was left to skate it alone. But the young Østfolding handled it well, finishing in 18.41,2 and setting a new personal best, climbing to 33rd place in the all-time list.

The top 3 compared after 1, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 laps:
Results 10000m:
1.Sverre Aune         18.15,2 pb
2.Oscar Mathisen      18.21,6
3.Kristian Strøm      18.25,4 pb
4.Ole Mamen           18.41,2 pb
5.Sigurd Syversen     19.01,4
6.Martin Sæterhaug    19.02,7
7.Bjarne Frang        19.31,7
8.Gustav Gulbrandsen  19.40,3
9.Henning Olsen       19.50,7
10.Gunerius Schou     20.37,1
Thoralf Hansen brøyt
1.Oscar Mathisen       3
2.Kristian Strøm       9
Bjarne Frang           9
4.Sverre Aune          9.5
5.Martin Sæterhaug    10
6.Sigurd Syversen     12
Henning Olsen         12
8.Ole Mamen           14
9.Gunerius Schou      15
10.Gustav Gulbrandsen 16.5

The races continue tomorrow with the 1500m and the 5000m.