Hjalmar Andersen

Hjalmar Andersen

Hjalmar Andersen
Personal information
Birth name Hjalmar Johan Andersen
Born (1923-03-12)12 March 1923
Rødøy, Norway
Died 27 March 2013(2013-03-27) (aged 90)
Oslo, Norway
Country Norway
Sport Speed skating
Club Sportsklubben Falken[1]
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 500 m: 43.7 (1951)
1000 m: 1:30.6 (1954)
1500 m: 2:16.4 (1949)
3000 m: 4:49.6 (1954)
5000 m: 8:06.5 (1956)
10 000 m: 16:32.6 (1952)

Hjalmar "Hjallis" Johan Andersen (12 March 1923 – 27 March 2013) was a speed skater from Norway who won three gold medals at the 1952 Winter Olympic Games of Oslo, Norway. He was the only triple gold medalist at the 1952 Winter Olympics, and as such, became the most successful athlete there.

Nicknamed King Glad for his famous cheerful mood, he was one of Norway's most popular sportsmen ever.[2] Four statues of him were raised during his lifetime; in Trondheim, Hamar, Rødøy and outside Bislett Stadium in Oslo. He was honored with a funeral at the state’s expense.

Early life

Andersen was born on Rødøy, an island off the coast of Nordland in Norway, where his mother hailed from. His father, who originally was from Hammerfest, was a boatswain. While Andersen was still an toddler, the family moved to Lademoen, a working-class neighborhood in Trondheim, where sport and friendship was an important part of life.[3]

He began speed skating at the age of 10, and became a member of the sports club Falken. The club was part of the Workers' Sports Federation (AIF), and the first competitions he participated in were small, local competitions organized by the AIF. Other members of the club were Sverre Farstad and Henry Wahl; later Andersen, Farstad and Wahl would be known by the nickname The Falken Trio.[3]

After the German occupation of Norway in 1940, when Andersen was 17 years old, all organized sports competitions were halted as a result of the sports boycott against the Nazi regime.[3][4] Like others of his generation, he had to wait until the winter of 1946 to take up his sports career again.

Professionally, he began working as a delivery boy in a sports store after having completed the folkeskole at about 14. He later worked as a lorry driver for several years. In 1950, when he was at the height of his speed skating career, he opened his own sports store in Trondheim, which he ran until 1960.[3]


Hjalmar Andersen, ca. 1950

He made his international debut at the 1948 Winter Olympic Games of St. Moritz, Switzerland, winning the qualifying race for 1500 m, but he was still not selected for the Norwegian team for this distance. He was selected for the 10000 m team, but because of the terrible ice conditions he did not finish the race.

During the European Championship in Davos he noted a personal best at 2:16.4 at 1,500 m and set a new world record in the 10,000 m with 16:57.4. He placed second overall in the championship.[3]

Andersen was the best skater of the world in the period of 1950 to 1952. In each of those three years, he became World Allround Champion, making him one of only five male skaters to have won this title in three consecutive years – the other four being Oscar Mathisen (1912–1914), Ard Schenk (1970–1972), Eric Heiden (1977–1979), and Sven Kramer (2007–2010). In those same years, 1950–1952, he was also European Allround Champion and Norwegian Allround Champion, thus winning the "triple" (World, European, and National Allround Championships) for three consecutive years. In addition, he also set three world records in those three years.

A notable event in his career was the European Championship in 1951 at Bislett Stadium. Speed skating was immensely popular in Norway at the time and 25,000 people cheered the skaters during the two-day event. King Haakon VII was present at the event.[5]

During the event, Andersen won the three first distances and was a clear favourite to become allround champion before the 10,000 metres. After 11 laps, however, Andersen fell.[3] He tried to continue on, but one of his skates had been damaged and he was taken off the rink. Andersen’s fall was soon linked to a flash used by photographer Johan Brun from Dagbladet at the moment of the fall. It was decided to let Andersen run the 10,000 metres for a second time, while a jury was to consider whether the second run should actually count. In the meantime, Brun rushed to Dagbladet to get his film developed. He returned with the photo he had taken when the fall happened. It showed that Andersen had his eyes shut at the time. The jury concluded that the flash had blinded Andersen.[5] The result from his second 10,000 metres run became official and he won both the 10,000 metres and the overall championship. Brun and Andersen had friendly contact later in life. Brun has stated that the electronic flash he had used couldn't possibly have blinded Andersen, and he believes the jury made a mistake due to lack of knowledge of photography equipment.[5]

In a speed skating international between Norway and the rest of the world at Hamar on 10 February 1952, Hjalmar Andersen set a world record in the 10,000 meters with the time 16:32.6. It was the first time a speed skater took less than 40 seconds to complete every lap in the 10,000 meters, and it was regarded as an amazing world record. In Norway, the record achieved legendary status, and is often referred to as the best known sports record ever. The record stood for eight years, until Kjell Bäckman broke it.[6][7]

The record created enormous interest in Andersen in the 1952 Winter Olympics that started in Oslo one week later.[8] On 17 February, Andersen won his first Olympic gold medal in the 5,000 meters with a new Olympic record. The next day, he won gold in the 1,500 meters, and he ended the competition by setting a new Olympic record in winning the 10,000 meters on 19 February. The three days of skating competitions were attended by 75,000 enthusiastic spectators.[8]

Andersen quit skating after the 1952 Olympics, but he was talked into giving it a new try in 1954. He became Norwegian champion for the fourth time and won both the 5,000 m and 10000 m at the European Championships in Davos, Switzerland that year, winning silver in the overall standings. He qualified for the 1956 Olympics and earned sixth place on the 10,000 m.

During his career, he set four world records. His 10,000 m world record in 1949 (16:57.4) was the first official world record below 17 minutes for the distance. As it was skated outside of Norway, it did not count as a Norwegian national record, of which Andersen set eight during his skating career. Andersen represented Sportsklubben Falken (Sports Club Falcon) in Trondheim.

Later years

After he ended his skating career, Andersen moved to Tønsberg. In addition to his skating triumphs, Andersen was also a great cyclist on a national level, and he was awarded the Egebergs Ærespris in 1951 for his achievements in speed skating and cycling.[1]

He started a long and joyful career in "the welfare service for merchant shipping", which he worked with until he reached retirement age in 1990.

Earning the nickname "Kong Glad" (English: King Happy") and known for his sense of humour, he was a popular speaker.[9][10] He also published several books, partly memories from his sports career and partly humoristic stories.[11]

He received the King's Medal of Merit in gold in 1998 and The Honor Prize at Idrettsgallaen together with Knut Johannesen in 2013,[9] just two months before his death.

Personal life

Andersen with children in 1952

Andersen married his teenage sweetheart, Gerd, and they lived together until she died in 2004. They had three children.

Death and funeral

On 25 March 2013, Andersen suffered a serious fall in his home in Tønsberg, Norway, was rushed to the hospital and never regained consciousness. He died two days later on 27 March, two weeks after his 90th birthday. His survivors include three children and grandson Fredrik van der Horst, a speedskater who represented Norway at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.[12]

The Norwegian government decided that Hjalmar Andersen should be honored with a funeral at the state’s expense. The third athlete to be given this honor since 1998.

Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg stated that “Hjalmar Andersen became a sport legend at a time when speed skating was part of the Norwegian identity, and got involved in the work for sailors at time when ship transport was interwoven with the nation’s soul. In this way, 'Hjallis' contributed to forming post-war Norway in an important way and won a huge place in the hearts of several generations of Norwegians.”[13]

The funeral ceremony in Tønsberg Cathedral on 4 April 2013 was attended by King Harald V and by Norway's Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg who gave a speech.[14]

Medals and Records

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

Championships Gold medal Silver medal Bronze medal
Winter Olympics 1952 (1500 m)
1952 (5000 m)
1952 (10000 m)
World Allround 1950
European Allround 1950
Norwegian Allround 1950

Over the course of his career, Andersen skated four world records:

10,000 m16.57,46 February 1949Switzerland Davos
5000 m8.07,313 January 1951Norway Trondheim
10,000 m16.51,427 January 1952Norway Gjøvik
10,000 m16.32,610 February 1952Norway Hamar

Source: SpeedSkatingStats.com[15]

Norwegian records

Big combination193.94029 January 1950Trondheim
Big combination192.70812 February 1950Oslo
5000 m8:13.84 March 1950Gjøvik
5000 m8:07.313 January 1951Trondheim
Big combination190.70714 January 1951Trondheim
10000 m17:00.120 January 1952Oslo
10000 m16:51.427 January 1952Gjøvik
10000 m16:32.610 February 1952Hamar

Note that in the days Hjalmar skated a Norwegian record could only be skated in Norway itself, so his Davos world record could not become a Norwegian record as well.

Personal records

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

500 m43.713 January 1951Trondheim-Stadion41.8
1000 m1:30.62 February 1954Davos1:28.4
1500 m2:16.46 February 1949Davos2:13.8
3000 m4:49.630 January 1954Davos4:40.2
5000 m8:06.529 January 1956Lagua Misurina7:45.6
10000 m16:32.610 February 1952Hamar-Stadion16:51.4

Ranking as speed skater

Andersen had a final Adelskalender score of 187.446 points. He held first place on the Adelskalender for 708 days between 1952 and 1954.

date        500 m  1500 m   5000 m   10000 m  points
24 January 1952  42,2   2.17,4   8.03,7   17.08,8   187,810 (Nikolay Mamonov)
10 February 1952  43,7   2.16,4   8.07,3   16.32,6   187,526
18 January 1954  42,2   2.17,4   8.03,7   16.52,2   186,980 (Nikolay Mamonov)





  1. 1 2 Hjalmar Andersen. sports-reference.com
  2. Eirik Borud et al. Hjalmar Andersen er død (Norwegian) VG, 27 March 2013
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Per Jorsett: Hjalmar Andersen Store Norske Leksikon, retrieved 29 March 2013 (Norwegian)
  4. Idretten Arkivverket, retrieved 29 March 2013
  5. 1 2 3 Øystein Andersen: Her er sannheten om tidenes skøytebilde Dagbladet, 27 March 2013 (Norwegian)
  6. Åge Dalby: 16.32,6 fyller 60 år Skøytesport, 6 February 2012 (Norwegian)
  7. Rune Gerhardsen: 16.32.6 Aftenposten, 27 March 2013
  8. 1 2 Per Opsahl and Ingrid Hvidsten: «Hjallis» var superstjernen som måtte skjermes fra OL-troppen på hjemmebane i 1952 VG, 27 March 2013 (Norwegian)
  9. 1 2 Siri Gedde-Dahl et al:Idrettspresidenten: – Glad han fikk hedersprisen Adressa.no, 27 March 2013 (Norwegian)
  10. Johannes Børstad et al:Det er fryktelig vondt NRK, 27 March 2013 (Norwegian)
  11. NTB: Hjalmar Andersen er død Dagsavisen, 27 March 2013 (Norwegian)
  12. «Hjallis» døde etter dramatisk fall i hjemmet. adressa.no (27 March 2013)
  13. Hjallis» begraves på statens bekostning. NRK, 28 March 2013 (Norwegian)
  14. Lillian Holden et al: Statsministeren: – Alle som er glade i Norge er glade i «Hjallis» VG, 4 April 2013 (Norwegian)
  15. "Hjalmar Andersen". SpeedSkatingStats.com. Retrieved 29 August 2012.


  • Eng, Trond. All Time International Championships, Complete results 1889 – 2002. Askim, Norway: WSSSA Skøytenytt, 2002.
  • Eng, Trond and Teigen, Magne. Norske Mesterskap på Skøyter, 1894 – 2005. Askim/Veggli, Norway: WSSSA-Norge, 2005.
  • Eng, Trond; Gjerde, Arild; Teigen, Magne and Petersen, Preben Gorud. Norsk Skøytestatistikk Gjennom Tidene 1999. Askim/Skedsmokorset/Veggli, Norway: WSSSA-Norge, 1999.
  • Teigen, Magne. Komplette Resultater Norske Mesterskap på Skøyter, 1887 – 1989. Veggli, Norway: WSSSA-Norge, 1989.
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Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Egil Lærum
Egebergs Ærespris
Succeeded by
Hallgeir Brenden
Preceded by
Stein Eriksen
Norwegian Sportsperson of the Year
Succeeded by
Sverre Strandli
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