Alfred Næss

Karl Alfred Ingvald Næss (26 April 1877 – 6 July 1955) was a Norwegian speed skater.[1] He set the men's world record for 500 meter speed skating on 5 February 1893 at 49.4 seconds in Hamar, Norway. He then broke his own world record 21 days later on 26 February 1893 at 48.0 seconds, then lowered it to 47.0 seconds on 24 February 1894 at Hamar.[2][3] He was the youngest European champion of all time, in 1895 he was 17 years and 276 days when he won the European Speed Skating Championships for Men.[4]

Karl Alfred Ingvald Næss
Alfred Ingvald Naess circa 1900 wearing his skating medals.jpg
Næss circa 1895–1900
Born(1877-04-26)26 April 1877
Died6 July 1955(1955-07-06) (aged 78)
Other namesKarl Alfred Ingvald Naess
Alfred Naess
Known for500 meter speed skating record
Spouse(s)Agnes Mjolstad
Marie (1879–1956)
Parent(s)Anne Jette Jensen (1847–?)
Christian Andersen Næss (1848–?)
RelativesCarl Frederick Tandberg, nephew

Mr. Naess is beyond all question the finest fancy skater ever seen in this part of the country.

— St. John Daily Sun on 10 March 1897


He was born on 26 April 1877 to Anne Jette Jensen (1847–?) of Kragerø or Skåtøy; and Kristian Andersen Næss (1848–?) of Grue, Norway. He was baptized as "Karl Alfred Ingvald Næss" on 27 May 1877 in the Garnison Menighet, in Oslo, Norway, but he always used the name "Alfred Næss". His father, Christian, was an army sergeant. Alfred had two siblings: Carl Albert Næss (1874–?); and Alvilde Marie Magdalene Næss (1875–1933) who married Thorvald Martin Tandberg (1874–1970).[5][6][7] Næss grew up in Vika.[8] On 6 February 1897 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, he competed against Canadian Jack McCulloch in the 1,500-meter race, McCulloch and Næss tied, invoking a run-off. McCulloch won the run-off by two-fifths of a second.[9] Also on 6 February 1897 Næss equaled the world record of 46.8 seconds set by Wilhelm Mauseth on 3 February 1895 in Trondheim, Norway, but on 7 February 1897 the record was broken by Peder Østlund with a time of 46.6.[10] After Montreal he visited his sister in Portland, Maine, and gave a demonstration on 17 February 1897.[11]

Næss won the Norwegian Allround Championships in Oslo in 1898, with gold medals in the 500 meter and the 1,500 meter, and a silver medal in the 5,000 meter. He set world records on three occasions in the 500 meter at Akersvika on Lake Mjøsa in Hamar, Norway. His best time was 47.0 in the European championships in 1894. Næss was in three European championships and three world championships, and he won the 500 meter race in two European championships and two world championships.[12]

He went on the vaudeville circuit doing ice skate tricks on ice he would create in the theaters.[13][14] In 1913 Næss returned to the United States. He married Agnes Mjolstad on 18 September 1919 in Manhattan, New York City and in 1920 he was living in a rented room in Manhattan.[5][15]

He died on 6 July 1955 in Austria and was buried in Austria.


Personal bestsEdit

Distance Time Date Location Tournament
500 meters 46.8 seconds 6 February 1897   Montreal World Allround Championships
1,500 meters 2 minutes, 35.0 seconds
5,000 meters 9 minutes, 29.8 seconds
10,000 meters 19 minutes, 17.0 seconds

Tournament resultsEdit

Between 1894 and 1900 he competed in seven tournaments:[3]

Tournament Year Date Location 500 meter 1,500 meter 5,000 meter 10,000 meter Highest References
World Allround Championships 1894 10–11 February 1894   Stockholm 50.4 s (1/q), 51.4 s (3) 2 m 55.4 s (6/q)
European Allround Championships 1894 24–25 February 1894   Hamar 48.2 s (2/so), 47.0 s (1), 48.6 s (2/q) 2 m 36.6 s (5/q)
European Allround Championships 1895 26–27 January 1895   Budapest 47.6 s (1), 47.8 s (1/q) 3 m 15.2 s (1), 2 m 49.8 s (2/q) 9 m 38.4 s (1) Gold
World Allround Championships 1897 5–6 February 1897   Montreal 46.8 s (1) 2 m 42.4 s (1), 2 m 41.2 s (2/so) 9 m 01.5 s (7) [9][10][16][17][18]
European Allround Championships 1898 19–20 February 1898   Helsinki 49.4 s (2) 2 m 39.0 s (2) 9 m 41.8 s (4)
Norwegian Allround Championships 1898 25–26 February 1898  Oslo 47.4 s (1) 2 m 42.2 s (1) 9 m 55.0 s (2) Gold
World Allround Championships 1900 24–25 February 1900   Oslo 47.2 s (2) 2 m 42.0 s (2) 9 m 59.2 s (7) 20 m 49.2 s (4) Second

Personal 500 meters progressionEdit

Between 1893 and 1894 he lowered his record in the 500 meter skate from 50.0 seconds to 46.8 seconds, setting three world records:[3][19][20]

Date Event Seconds Location Comments
29 January 1893 500 meters 50.0 Trondheim
5 February 1893 500 meters 49.4 Hamar World record
19 February 1893 500 meters 48.0 Oslo
26 February 1893 500 meters 48.0 Hamar World record [2]
24 February 1894 500 meters 47.0 Hamar World record [21]
16 January 1895 500 meters 47.0 Davos
12 January 1896 500 meters 46.8 Hamar Personal best
5 February 1897 500 meters 46.8 Montreal Personal best

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Harry Sundby-Hansen (1921). Norwegian Immigrant Contributions to America's Making. International Press. Several of these Norwegian champions have visited the United States, Axel Paulsen, Alfred Næss, ...
  2. ^ a b "Speed Skating" (PDF). International Olympic Committee. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
  3. ^ a b c "Alfred Næss". Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  4. ^ "Kramer lacht, Wüst huilt". Wegener NieuwsMedia (in Dutch). 15 January 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-21. De jongste Europees kampioen aller tijden is de Noor Alfred Naess. In 1895 was hij 17 jaar en 276 dagen toen hij het EK won.
  5. ^ a b Alfred Næss in the World War I draft
  6. ^ 1900 Census of Grue, Norway
  7. ^ Birth and baptisms, Garnison Menighet, 1857-1880
  8. ^ "Pipervika". Skyggespill. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-08-21. Norway's first international amateur speed skating champion, Alfred Næss, grew up in Vika. So did the two champion brothers Sigurd and Oscar Mathisen. None of their homes have survived.
  9. ^ a b "Jack McCulloch". Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2008-01-26. Retrieved 2008-10-12. His next major amateur competition was at the 1897 world championships which were held in Montreal and featured speed skaters from Canada, U.S., and Norway, including the famed Norwegian skater Alfred Nass [sic]. In the 1,500-metre race, he and Nass [sic] finished in a dead heat, forcing a second race. In front of a large crowd, McCulloch won the run-off by only two-fifths of a second.
  10. ^ a b "World Beaters". Boston Globe. 6 February 1897. Many world's records were broken at today's racing meeting of the amateur skating association of Canada. In the 500-meter race Alfred Nass [sic], the Norweglan, equaled the world's record of 46 4-5s.
  11. ^ "Champion Skater of The World". Portland Press Herald. 1897. There is in store for the people of Portland a great treat. The managers of the Portland Ice rink have made arrangements with Mr. Alfred Nass [sic], who is one of the greatest skaters in the world to give at the rink Wednesday evening, the 17th, an exhibition of fancy and trick skating. Mr. Nass [sic] is just from the great international championship skating contest which has just closed at Montreal, where the greatest skaters in Europe and America have been in competition with each other. In that contest he won two medals of great value which he will wear at the rink. He is in possession of scores of medals won from skating all over the world, and besides has more than $400 worth of presents. He gave an exhibition of fancy work before the managers of the rink and they say that what he can do is simply wonderful, and what he can't do isn't worth doing. Mr. Nass [sic] has an engagement at Minneapolis to do fancy skating, and the great M. A. A. A. rink of Montreal has engaged him to give an exhibition there, and he is in great demand. He would not have been in Portland only for his sister, who lives here. The American skaters are not up in the art of fancy work as are the Norwegian people, this you will say when you have seen him.
  12. ^ "Alfred Næss - norsk skøytepionèer" (in Norwegian). Oslo Skøiteklub. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2008.
  13. ^ "Playbills of the Week". Chicago Tribune. 28 June 1914. Retrieved 2009-11-21. Alfred and Sigrid Naess will headline all week. They are skaters, and they will have ice on which to skate.
  14. ^ Clifford Milner. "Alfred Naess". [He] later he went on the vaudeville circuit doing ice skate tricks, like jumping over a series of pool tables.
  15. ^ Alfred Næss in the 1920 US Census for Manhattan
  16. ^ "Championship Skating". The Washington Post. 6 February 1897. The ninth annual race meeting of the Amateur Skating Association of Canada, in connection with which is held the world's championship races. amateur and professional, was begun today, and was favored with the best of weather. The ice was the best that any of the most exacting experts could ask for. There was a slight east wind which was against the flyers. ... Alfred Næss Equals the World's Record at 500 Meters.
  17. ^ "Skating In Montreal; Remarkable Records Made In Spite Of Bad Weather. Nilsson of Minneapolis Breaks the World's Record in a Five-Mile Race and Is Cheered by the Many Spectators". The New York Times. 7 February 1897. Retrieved 2008-10-12. Despite the fact that the elements were unpropitious, some remarkable records were made today at the meeting of the Amateur Skating Association of Canada. A light sleet, half snow and half rain, which commenced to fall during the morning, rendered the ice extremely heavy, and a very strong wind blew during the afternoon. ... J. K. McColloch, Winnipeg, 2:404-5, won; Alfred Nass [sic], 2:41 4-5, second; Julius Seyler, Switzerland, 2-A3 1-5, third; John,Davidson, Montreal, 2:472-5, ...
  18. ^ "Swift Skating in Montreal. Records Broken in the Ninth Annual Canadian Race Meeting". The New York Times. 6 February 1897. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
  19. ^ "Evolution of the world record 500 meters Men". Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  20. ^ "Complete List of Historical Speed Skating Records". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 2004-05-24. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
  21. ^ Suzanne Treat (1975). Encyclopaedia of Sports.

External linksEdit

Preceded by World record progression 500 m speed skating men
5 February 1893 – 26 February 1893
Succeeded by
Preceded by World record progression 500 m speed skating men
26 February 1893 – 21 January 1894
Succeeded by
Preceded by World record progression 500 m speed skating men
24 February 1894 – 3 February 1895
Succeeded by