March 19 in Swedish History
1922: The first ever Vasaloppet (the Vasa Ski Race) is held. Winner is the 22-year old Ernst Alm, who clocks in at 7 hours, 32 minutes and 49 seconds (This year's winner, professional skier Jørgen Aukland came in at 3.50.48). The idea to Vasaloppet was put forward on February 10 the same year by newspaper editor Anders Pers in an article in the daily Vestmanlands Läns tidning.
The long ski marathon was to commemorate Gustav Vasa’s flight from the troops of King Christian II towards Norway in 1521, and was to run from Sälen to Mora.
The following day, February 11, daily Dagens Nyheter reprinted the article, and on March 5, IFK Mora (a soccer club in Mora) decided to arrange the race. DN donated 1,000 SEK (today $156) and it was decided to set the race on March 19. The first one to register was Carl Emmanuel Berg from IF Göta (a sports club in Karlstad), who registered on March 10. In total there were 139 registrations, and 119 participants came to the start of the race. The pistol went off a few seconds after 6 o’clock in the morning on March 19, at Olnispagarden in Berga By, with Johan Westling holding the starting flag. 117 of the participants completed the race.
Ernst Alm was awarded the laurel by the first ever “kranskulla”, Therese Eliasson from Mora. Alm’s skis were made by Bröderna Svenssons såg och snickeri and his pants were sewn by Lugn Maria Nilsson from Sillerö, Malung. Alm is still the youngest ever winner of Vasaloppet, but though he continued to participate in five other Vasa races, he never again won. He died in 1980.