Speed Skating Hall of Fame

Clas Thunberg

Born: April 5, 1893 - Helsinki (FIN)
Died: April 28, 1973 - Helsinki (FIN)

Clas Thunberg from Finland took over the title 'king of speed skating' after Oscar Mathisen when he won 3 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal in the first Olympic Games in Chamonix 1924. He won 1500 meters and 5000 meters, in addition to the only gold in allround combination ever awarded. He continued his Olympic success with 2 gold medals in Sankt Moritz 1928 (500 meters and 1500 meters). He was the oldest Olympic champion in the history of Olympic speed skating when he won his last Olympic gold, 34 years and 315 days old. He dominated speed skating in the 1920s and early 1930s. He was 5 times world champion and 4 times European champion.

In his younger years, before his speed skating career started, Thunberg is known to be smoking and drinking quite a lot. He did not start speed skating until he was 18 years old, and he started in his first competition at the age of 20. He was 28 years old when he started in his first international tournament, the european championship in 1922, which he won. He continued skating until the age of 42, taking part in his last international tournament in 1935. He was working as a master bricklayer in his hometown, Helsinki.

Among his 4 World Records was a record on 1000 meters, a distance which was seldom skated at this time. His record would stand unbeated for a record period of 25 years before is was finally beaten by Yevgeny Grishin in 1955.

He was one of the few speed skating kings never to reach the top of the Adelskalender. He never managed to dethrone Oscar Mathisen. He was number two, behind Mathisen, for a little less than two years, 28 February 1928 - 10 January 1930.

Bjarte Hetland, December 7, 2013

Career summary


Podia at championships

yearpositionchampionshipplace
19223 World Championship AllroundKristiania (Oslo)NOR
1 European Championship AllroundHelsinkiFIN
19231 World Championship AllroundStockholmSWE
2 European Championship AllroundHamarNOR
19241 Olympic Winter Games AllroundChamonixFRA
3 Olympic Winter Games 500 metersChamonixFRA
1 Olympic Winter Games 1500 metersChamonixFRA
1 Olympic Winter Games 5000 metersChamonixFRA
2 Olympic Winter Games 10,000 metersChamonixFRA
2 European Championship AllroundKristiania (Oslo)NOR
19251 World Championship AllroundOsloNOR
19272 World Championship AllroundTampereFIN
2 European Championship AllroundStockholmSWE
19281 Olympic Winter Games 500 metersSt. MoritzSUI
1 Olympic Winter Games 1500 metersSt. MoritzSUI
1 World Championship AllroundDavosSUI
1 European Championship AllroundOsloNOR
19291 World Championship AllroundOsloNOR
2 European Championship AllroundDavosSUI
19311 World Championship AllroundHelsinkiFIN
1 European Championship AllroundStockholmSWE
19321 European Championship AllroundDavosSUI

World Records

#disciplinerecorddateplace
1500 meters0:42.8Jan 19, 1929DavosSUI
21000 meters1:28.4Jan 11, 1930DavosSUI
3500 meters0:42.6Jan 13, 1931St. MoritzSUI
43000 meters5:19.2Jan 8, 1932DavosSUI

Personal Bests

distancetimedateplace
500m0:42.6Jan 13, 1931St. MoritzSUI
1000m1:27.4Mar 4, 1931OsloNOR
1500m2:18.1Jan 11, 1930DavosSUI
3000m5:00.6Mar 21, 1933DavosSUI
5000m8:32.6Feb 4, 1928DavosSUI
10,000m17:34.8Feb 5, 1928DavosSUI