Paulsen first publicly executed the Axel jump in 1882 at the World Championships in Vienna while wearing speed skates. At the Vienna World Championships Paulsen won both the speed skating and fancy (figure) skating events becoming the World Champion.
In the winter of 1883 Paulsen went to North America to participate in a series of skating events. On February 8, 1883 a race was held at the open air rink in Washington Park, Brooklyn, New York. Paulsen defeated 17 picked skaters, the fastest from Norway, Canada, England and the United States and set the following records at the race:
- 1 mile: 3 minutes, 34 3/5 seconds
- 5 miles: 19 minutes, 10 seconds
- 10 miles: 39 minutes, 7 3/5 seconds
Paulsen was a professional skater competing in races and meets that offered the winners prize purses and medals; he was the World Professional Speed Skating Champion from 1882 to 1889. He lost the title on February 1, 1890 to Canadian professional speed skating champion Hugh J. McCormick at a 3-race meet in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
He also won the 1885 speed skating race at Frognerkilen.
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