Charles Mathiesen

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Charles Mathiesen

Charles Mathiesen 1936.jpg

Mathiesen at the 1936 Olympics
Personal information
Born 12 February 1911
Drammen, Norway
Died 7 November 1994 (aged 83)
Drammen, Norway
Sport Speed skating
Club Drammens SK
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 500 m – 43.2 (1940)
1500 m – 2:15.6 (1939)
5000 m – 8:18.7 (1940)
10000 m – 17:01.5 (1940) [1]
Ivar Ballangrud and Charles Mathiesen (right) at the 1936 Olympics Ivar Ballangrud and Charles Mathiesen 1936.jpg
Ivar Ballangrud and Charles Mathiesen (right) at the 1936 Olympics

Charles Mathiesen (12 February 1911 – 7 November 1994) was a speed skater who was active from 1930 to 1948.

Speed skating competitive form of ice skating in which the competitors race each other

Speed skating is a competitive form of ice skating in which the competitors race each other in travelling a certain distance on skates. Types of speed skating are long track speed skating, short track speed skating, and marathon speed skating. In the Olympic Games, long-track speed skating is usually referred to as just "speed skating", while short-track speed skating is known as "short track". The ISU, the governing body of both ice sports, refers to long track as "speed skating" and short track as "short track skating".



Mathiesen was born in Drammen, Norway. Skating for Drammens Skøyteklubb (Drammen's Skating Club the same club Ivar Ballangrud represented for a while), Charles Mathiesen made his international debut in 1933, finishing eighth at the World Allround Championships. The following year, Mathiesen won his first medal when he took the silver at the Norwegian Allround Championships (held at his hometown of Drammen) behind Michael Staksrud. Mathiesen won the Norwegian Allround Championships, being the "eternal runner-up" behind skaters like Ballangrud, Staksrud, Hans Engnestangen, and a few more, winning silver a total number of six times.

Drammen Municipality in Buskerud, Norway

Drammen is a city in Buskerud, Norway. The port and river city of Drammen is centrally located in the eastern and most populated part of Norway. Drammen is the capital of the county of Buskerud.

Norway constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northwestern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.

Ivar Ballangrud speed skater

Ivar Eugen Ballangrud was a Norwegian speed skater, a four-time Olympic champion in speed skating. As the only triple gold medalist at the 1936 Winter Olympics, Ballangrud was the most successful athlete there.

The season after winning his first medal, Mathiesen participated in the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and became Olympic Champion on the 1,500 m. He skated a new Olympic record on that distance, but did not beat the world record set by Oscar Mathisen 22 year earlier. However, he turned out to be the only skater who was able to beat his teammate Ivar Ballangrud during those Olympics and thereby the only one to keep Ballangrud from winning Olympic gold on all four distances. [1]

1936 Winter Olympics 4th edition of Winter Olympics, held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany) in 1936

The 1936 Winter Olympics, officially known as the IV Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1936 in the market town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. Germany also hosted that year's Summer Olympics in Berlin. 1936 is the last year in which the Summer and Winter Games were both held in the same country.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen Place in Bavaria, Germany

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a ski town in Bavaria, southern Germany. It is the seat of government of the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in the Oberbayern region, which borders Austria. Nearby is Germany's highest mountain, Zugspitze, at 2,962 m (9,718 ft.).

Oscar Mathisen Norwegian speed skater

Oscar Wilhelm Mathisen was a Norwegian speed skater and celebrity, almost rivalling Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen as symbols for a young nation. He represented Kristiania Skøiteklub.

More national and international successes followed, including becoming European Allround Champion in 1938 and at the World Allround Championships two weeks after that coming very close to breaking the world record on the 10,000 m. However, he was paired against Ballangrud in his 10,000 m race, and although both finished in the same time of 17:14.4, Ballangrud was declared the winner and therefore also became the new world record holder. Times were measured to a precision of only one tenth of a second in those days and so a time of 17:14.4 on the 10,000 m an average speed of 9.57 m/s meant that one skater could finish almost one meter (a little over three feet) behind another skater and still have the same time. Two years later, he skated a world record in the 10,000 m, which stood for almost 9 years.

The European Speed Skating Championships are a series of long track speed skating events held annually to determine the best allround speed skater of Europe.

Mathiesen may have won more medals if it had not been for World War II. As a result of that war, the European Allround Championships were not held in the years 1940-1945, nor the World Allround Championships in the years 1940-1946. In fact, Mathiesen proved that he was (still) at the world top immediately before the war and immediately after the war by winning bronze at Unofficial World Championships held in 1940 and 1946. In those same years, he also won his last two silver medals at the Norwegian Allround Championships.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Twelve years after having won his 1,500 m Olympic gold medal, Mathiesen participated in the 5,000 m at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, but the relatively low oxygen levels at the ice rink there located 1,856 m (6,089 ft) above sea level caused him to have trouble breathing and 3,000 m into his 5,000 m race, he collapsed and was taken to a hospital. [1]

1948 Winter Olympics 5th edition of Winter Olympics, held in Sankt Moritz (Switzerland) in 1948

The 1948 Winter Olympics, officially known as the V Olympic Winter Games, was a winter multi-sport event celebrated in 1948 in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

St. Moritz Place in Grisons, Switzerland

St. Moritz is a high Alpine resort town in the Engadine in Switzerland, at an elevation of about 1,800 metres (5,910 ft) above sea level. It is Upper Engadine's major village and a municipality in the district of Maloja in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.


An overview of medals won by Mathiesen at important championships he participated in, listing the years in which he won each:

ChampionshipsGold medalSilver medalBronze medal
Winter Olympics 1936 (1,500 m)
World Allround 1938
European Allround 19381936
Norwegian Allround1934

World records

Over the course of his career, Mathiesen skated one world record:

10,000 m 17.01,5March 3, 1940 Flag of Norway.svg Hamar

Source: [2]

Personal records

To put these personal records in perspective, the WR column lists the official world records on the dates that Mathiesen skated his personal records.

500 m43.220 February 1940 Oslo 41.8
1,000 m1:32.02 March 1940 Hamar 1:28.4
1,500 m2:15.629 January 1939 Davos 2:14.9
3,000 m4:50.610 February 1940 Bergen 4:49.6
5,000 m8:18.72 March 1940 Hamar 8:17.2
10,000 m17:01.53 March 1940 Hamar 17:14.4

Mathiesen has an Adelskalender score of 189.345 points. His highest ranking on the Adelskalender was a second place.

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  1. 1 2 3 Charles Mathiesen.
  2. "Charles Mathiesen". Retrieved 28 August 2012.