Hjalmar Andersen, Norwegian Speedskater, Dies at 90
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Published: March 27, 2013
Hjalmar Andersen, a Norwegian speedskater who broke world records in the early 1950s and won three gold medals at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, died on Wednesday in Oslo. He was 90.
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He had been hospitalized after falling at his home in Tonsberg on Monday, Jamie Miller, a spokeswoman for United States Speedskating, said.
Andersen specialized in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races but also competed in the 1,500. His Olympic career began inauspiciously in the 1948 Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He competed only in the 10,000-meter race and did not finish.
But he bounced back with a string of victories. He won the World All-Around Speed-Skating Championships from 1950 through 1952 and set multiple world records. He was the first skater to complete a 10,000-meter race in under 17 minutes and improved to 16 minutes 32.6 seconds days before the start of the 1952 Olympic Games.
At those Olympics, 24,000 fans cheered him on as he won the 5,000-meter race in 8:10.6, 11 seconds ahead of the Netherlands’ Kees Broekman and an Olympic record. Besides the 5,000, he won gold in the 1,500- and 10,000-meter races.
Andersen retired after the Olympics but returned to skating in 1954, winning the Norwegian championships for the fourth time and the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races at the European Championships. He came in sixth in the 10,000-meter race at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and then retired from racing for good.
Three Norwegian cities have statues of Andersen, and he was honored on a postage stamp in 1990.
Hjalmar Johan Andersen was born on March 12, 1923, in Rodoy, Norway.
His survivors include three children and a grandson, Fredrik van der Horst, a speedskater who represented Norway at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.