03/27/2013 09:49 EDT | Updated 05/27/2013 05:12 EDT

Hjalmar Andersen, a 3-time Olympic gold medallist in speedskating, dies at 90

OSLO - Hjalmar Andersen, a Norwegian speedskater who won three gold medals at the 1952 Winter Olympics, has died. He was 90.

The Norwegian Skating Association said Andersen, known to many Norwegians as Hjallis, died Wednesday after falling earlier this week at his home. The cause of death was not given.

In the early 1950s, Andersen was considered the world's best skater. He was the world all-round champion for three years, won a European title and set world records in 1950, 1951 and 1952. He also set the 10,000-meter world record in 1949, becoming the first to cover the distance in less than 17 minutes.

At the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, he won gold in the 1,500, the 5,000 and the 10,000. Two years later, he won two European Championship titles and took silver in the overall standings.

He qualified for the 1956 Olympics but finished sixth in the 10,000.

Norwegian sports minister Hadia Tajik called Andersen "a legend," and media in the country dubbed him "one of Norway's most popular sportsmen ever."

Three Norwegian cities have statues of him.

Andersen married his teenage sweetheart Gerd, with whom he had three children. She died in 2003.