Andersen, 63, is warm and craggy, with a voice that sounds like the scraping together of pieces of flatbread. "That picture was from when I first met the king," he says. "The king said, 'They tell me you're a driver of trucks.' I said I was. He said, 'Then how did you get such strong legs?'
"I said, 'I take out the seats. I grab the wheel and hold myself in the cab without the seats.' It was just after he figured out that isn't possible that he got hysterical."
Andersen, who works for the Norwegian Merchant Marine, seeing to the welfare of seamen around the world, is gloriously gregarious, a clear extension of a remarkably energetic racing career. In 1951, when skating the 10,000, a photographer temporarily blinded him with a flash at 6,000 meters. Andersen, very tired by then, fell. Skaters, of course, race in pairs, against the clock. He was given an hour to rest; then he raced again and won.
"In those years after the war," he says, "Norway wanted a Norwegian on the top in skating. It was my good luck to be there then, to fill an unusual need." He has a parallel in Britain's Roger Bannister, whose four-minute mile in 1954 helped restore the British public's faith in the force of its own will.
"Nineteen fifty-two," says Andersen firmly, "was the last amateur Games. There were no commercials then, no sponsors. Just us. I'd had good years in 1950 and '51. I was on the crest of a wave."
The Bislett Olympic ice had a translucent celadon porcelain gleam. Andersen can remember the sweet pungency of the crowd's collective breath, a mixture of schnapps and brandy and aquavit so volatile that the air seemed to shimmer. "For speed skating, the Bislett rink is special," he says. "The ice is so close to the audience, you hear them as one voice." In Andersen's gesture, Bislett's encouragement was a hand on his butt, pushing him forward. No man's medals have been more assured.
Andersen cherishes the friendship of Heiden. "The greatest skater we have seen," he says. "His humor, it is fine. I took him to the farm of the king to milk a cow. And we got competing at it, at who gets the most milk in a set time. He's from Wisconsin. He wins. Then, up at Holmenkollen, we competed at throwing milk cans. I hit a tree, so that's why he won."
Soon Andersen is on the floor of his office, showing how he Indian-wrestled the 25-year-old Heiden. "I was scared. I remembered those legs. But I was lucky with the timing and I won that. Then we arm-wrestled." His tone is of a foregone conclusion. "Well, I had been a rower. Eric, he started to bend me down, but I twisted our wrists, to make it only a test of biceps, and...ah, no Norwegian has beaten Eric Heiden but me." It's a lovely picture. All they needed was the king to referee.
"I have a feeling that Hjalmar and I had exactly the same attitude," said Heiden at his parents' Wisconsin home last May, still giggling. "You have fun, do your best and, shoot, you get around that celebrity stuff somehow."
Bislett is one of the few places where skating and running overlap. Among athletes there is usually little crossover. "Running is cardiovascular. Skating is muscle, only from the knees to the chest," says Arne Kvalheim, 41, Oslo's city council member in charge of transportation. "Runners ski in winter. Skaters cycle in summer."