‘Hjalmar gave Norwegians optimism’, says Norwegian Skating Association / News / The Foreigner

‘Hjalmar gave Norwegians optimism’, says Norwegian Skating Association. Norway’s Skating Association’s general secretary pays tribute to recently-departed national icon and champion Hjalmar ‘Hjallis’ Andersen (1923-2013) following his state funeral last week. “Up to the time of his death, Hjalmar was the oldest Olympic Norwegian gold medalists. He celebrated his 90th birthday with friends in the Skating Museum at Frogner Stadium on 12th March,” Nils Einar Aas, Skating Association General Secretary says to The Foreigner. Younger life Hjalmar was the only boy and oldest of six siblings. His father Johan came from Finnmark County’s Hammerfest and was a captain on the Helgeland coast, while his mother Anne Matilde Johanne came from Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag County.

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‘Hjalmar gave Norwegians optimism’, says Norwegian Skating Association

Published on Tuesday, 9th April, 2013 at 15:51 under the news category, by Shruti Chauhan and Michael Sandelson   .

Norway’s Skating Association’s general secretary pays tribute to recently-departed national icon and champion Hjalmar ‘Hjallis’ Andersen (1923-2013) following his state funeral last week.

Hjalmar 'Hjallis' Andersen (2010)
Hjalmar 'Hjallis' Andersen (2010)
Photo: Ulflarsen/Wikipedia


“Up to the time of his death, Hjalmar was the oldest Olympic Norwegian gold medalists. He celebrated his 90th birthday with friends in the Skating Museum at Frogner Stadium on 12th March,” Nils Einar Aas, Skating Association General Secretary says to The Foreigner.

Younger life

Hjalmar was the only boy and oldest of six siblings. His father Johan came from Finnmark County’s Hammerfest and was a captain on the Helgeland coast, while his mother Anne Matilde Johanne came from Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag County.

The now deceased champion began his professional life as an errand boy down at the wharf in Trondheim, later working as a truck driver after he turned 16. He then attended his first skating event as a junior C-runner for Reina Circuit in 1939.

Nonetheless, he first got inspired when he attended the Workers’ Federation of Sports (AIF) championship in 1940 as a spectator.

Sportsman Åge Dalby has also written an obituary of the legendary skater. In it, he wrote that “Hjalmar never forgot the exciting duel between then skating stalwarts Bernt Evensen and Håkon Pedersen.”

WWII disrupted but did not put a stopper to Hjalmar’s skating career. He participated in the Championships for juniors in eastern Norway’s Skien 1946, one year after he married, coming 42 of 45.

Whilst to be later national team colleague Ivar Martinsen from Hamar took victory then, Hjalmar won the 1,500 and 3,000-meter distance classes at the junior championship held in Kongsberg the following year.

Olympics and fall at Bislett                                

“In 1948, Hjalmar qualified as 10,000-meter participant at the Winter Olympics in St Moritz but was unsuccessful,” wrote Åge Dalby. “The 1949 European Championships at Davos were Hjalmar’s first major championship.”

Hjalmar came third in the 5,000 metres there with a time of 8.15,8, and set a world record in the 10,000 m with 16.57,4.

The 10,000-meter competition two years later at Oslo’s Bislett Stadium was to be one of the most discussed episodes of his career, according to Mr Dalby.

“Hjalmar fell because of Dagbladet photographer Johan Brun’s flash and one of his skates got ruined against an iron bar. He was allowed to go the distance again alone at the end. After a 20-minute rest, Hjalmar got back on his skates and beat the necessary winning time of 18.38,8 with 17.28,6 to be champion,” Mr Dalby wrote.

The pinnacle of Hjalmar’s skating career were the skating seasons 1950 to 1952, where he won nine championships in a row. He also won three Olympic gold medals in Oslo 1952 in the 1,500, 5,000, and 10,000-meter competitions.

“Very dedicated”                                      

Hjalmar’s last competition was the 12 February 1956 under the World Cup at Bislett. He set a personal best in the 5,000 meters, and came 7th in the 10,000.

The former Norwegian champion moved to Tønsberg in 1961 after turning attention towards coaching, which included being Sweden’s during the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley in the US. He was employed for 30 years in the Merchant Navy.

“Hjalmar was immensely popular among Norwegian sailors worldwide, whose good he worked for General Secretary of Welfare,” explains Skating Association General Secretary Nils Einar Aas explains to The Foreigner.

“He kept his grip on public life for over 60 years. It is very unique. He is remembered as the smiling man, with nicknames "Hjallis" and "King Happy" sticking to him for many decades”, Mr Aas adds.

In 1998, Hjalmar was awarded the gold King's Medal of Merit, and the prestigious Honours Award was bestowed upon in during January 2013’s annual "Sports Gala" in Hamar.

Hjalmar was given a state funeral last week following his passing on 27 March. The same honor was bestowed upon ski-jumper Birger Ruud in 1998 and marathon runner Grete Waitz in 2011.

Hjalmar Andersen is perhaps the person who has given Norwegians most entertainment, expectation, results and optimism, even in the difficult post-War period. He was deeply committed to all his causes,” concludes Nils Einar Aas.



Published on Tuesday, 9th April, 2013 at 15:51 under the news category, by Shruti Chauhan and Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: hjalmarandersen, norwayskatinglegend, hjallis.





  
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