Speed Skating Hall of Fame

Knut Johannesen

Born: November 6, 1933 - Oslo (NOR)

Knut "Kuppern" Johannesen, born in Oslo, was the one who brought the speed skating focus back to Norway, after the Soviet Untion skaters had dominated international speed skating during the mid-1950s. After Hjalmar Andersen retired, Norwegian speed skating had not much international success, and the Olympic Games in 1956 was an all time low with only one silver (won by Knut Johannesen) and one bronze medal. When Knut Johannesen won the World Championships in 1957, it was not only a great victory to Kuppern, but also a relief to Norwegian speed skating.

Two years later, Kuppern won the first international tournament to be held on an artificial icerink, the European Championships at Nya Ullevi in Gothenburg. He repeated this the following year, winning a very popular title on his home ground, Bislett.

When he won his first Olympic title, 10000 m in Squaw Valley 1960, he literally demolished the previous World Record, becoming the first skater to break the 16-minutes barrier with 15.46,6. His greatest opponent was the russian skater Viktor Kosichkin, who had beaten him on the 5000 m.

After two bad years in 1961 and 1962 he was just about to quit speed skating. He was talked into continuing, and he was part of the Norwegian speed skating revolution in 1963. During January 1963 he won his seventh Norwegian Championships in a row, and he set 3 new World Records, becoming the first to skate a 5000 m under 7.40. Later this year he was the runner-up in both the European and the World Championships.

1964 should be his last and most successfull year. He beat his teammate Per Ivar Moe by 0.2 seconds to win his second Olympic gold medal (5000 m) and when Ants Antson fell on the opening distance, noone could beat him in the World Championships. Because of bad ice preparations he could not fight Jonny Nilsson for his third Olympic gold. He had to settle for a bronze medal, making it a total of 5 Olympic medals (2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze).

He was eight times Norwegian champion (which is a record). In 1959 he was honored by the first "Oscar Mathisen Trophy" to be awarded.

He was number one on the Adelskalender for two periods: 27 February 1960 - 23 February 1963 and 19 January 1964 - 25 January 1964, a total of 1100 days.

Bjarte Hetland, December 7, 2013

Career summary


Podia at championships

yearpositionchampionshipplace
19562 Olympic Winter Games 10,000 metersCortina d'AmpezzoITA
2 European Championship AllroundHelsinkiFIN
19571 World Championship AllroundÖstersundSWE
2 European Championship AllroundOsloNOR
19583 European Championship AllroundEskilstunaSWE
19591 European Championship AllroundGöteborgSWE
19602 Olympic Winter Games 5000 metersSquaw ValleyUSA
1 Olympic Winter Games 10,000 metersSquaw ValleyUSA
1 European Championship AllroundOsloNOR
19632 World Championship AllroundKaruizawaJPN
2 European Championship AllroundGöteborgSWE
19641 Olympic Winter Games 5000 metersInnsbruckAUT
3 Olympic Winter Games 10,000 metersInnsbruckAUT
1 World Championship AllroundHelsinkiFIN

World Records

#disciplinerecorddateplace
110,000 meters15:46.6Feb 27, 1960Squaw ValleyUSA
23000 meters4:33.9Jan 12, 1963TønsbergNOR
3Big combination183.035Jan 19/20, 1963HamarNOR
45000 meters7:37.8Jan 26, 1963OsloNOR

Personal Bests

distancetimedateplace
500m0:42.30Feb 24, 1960Squaw ValleyUSA
1000m1:31.0Feb 2, 1954DavosSUI
1500m2:09.4Feb 24, 1963KaruizawaJPN
3000m4:28.7Feb 11, 1964OsloNOR
5000m7:37.8Jan 26, 1963OsloNOR
10,000m15:42.9Jan 19, 1964OsloNOR