The 1998 Annual Lapland Awards (10 year anniversary repost)

Lapland Trophy

Good evening everybody and welcome to the 20th annual Finland Alumni Lapland Awards. These awards are given in recognition of outstanding achievement in several fields of endeavour while on the 1998 Alumni trip to Lapland. The awards are judged by a panel of judges chosen because they said they would do it. This year it is MJ, MK and MS. The awards are of course only in the (perhaps warped) opinion of the judges, so all comments, congratulations and letter bombs should be sent to them and not to the Academy.

Without further ado, let us begin the awards.

One award has been presented already: We all remember that moving ceremony aboard the bus in Kemi where Mike presented Jorrit Leijting with the prestigious Biggus Dickus award. Nothing further really needs to be said about this award except that Jorrit is certainly a worthy winner.

Tonight's second award is the Ski God award. This goes to a man who inspired awe with his feats of snow-bourne skill while in Lapland. He completely blew us away and left us amazed as he skied the 36 km to the hut and back in a mere 5 hours and then hardly looked tired! He skied on those funny little skis and didn't look at all silly. He even took the time to make us mere mortals feel better by pretending to fall over at least once. Thus, for these achievements and many more Michael Jeltsch is unquestionably Ski God for 1998!

While we're talking about awe we should quickly turn to the next award. This award is called The Body. No explanation necessary for this one is necessary really. It is given, for the tenth year running, to Arska ! This award was no contest. Try again in twenty years guys.

The next award is an extremely prestigious one with along and distinguished history. This award, Bloke of the Year, goes to that person who most perfectly captures the essence of Blokeness, that certain something that sets a man apart from his beer swilling, burping, farting, macho buddies. Special mention must be made of the winner's efforts in burping. The shear quantity of production, not even considering the high quality generally achieved must surely have demoralised all competitors. This year the choice is clear cut, Andria Pott is, without a doubt, Bloke of the Year!

Moving right along, we would like to present the next award to a man who charmed us with his grace on the dance floor, with his ability to sweep a partner off their feet (as one of the judges can surely testify). He dazzled us with his moves and astounded us with his grooves. This man is none other than Mohammed Tsaalbi and he is the worthy recipient of this years Golden Dance Shoes! You can come to our parties anytime Mohammed.

Lapland is a very remote place. Some would say that it's the place nowhere goes when it's looking to get away from it all. However, just because you're miles from everywhere that doesn't mean that you shouldn't pick up the phone and reach out to someone. Therefore, we give this, the Clemens Icheln Award, award to that person, who despite being in the deepest wilderness, can find the time for a chat on that trusty little kenka puhelin. There was one or two nominees this year but we feel that the most worthy recipient of the Clemens Icheln Award is Vlad Fomin! Clemens would be proud. And probably is.

The main inhabitant of Lapland, the reindeer, must have a fairly boring time. One of the benefits of the alumni trip to Lapland is that some excitement is brought into their mundane lives. An award is given to that person who must surely have brought the most joy to these poor reindeer. Thus, for exposing it all (except those bits covered by a very daring towel) whilst zooming around on Kevonjoki in the middle of the night, Kate Ruddick is the winner of the Reindeer Peep Show Award! The reindeer will surely want you back next year Kate.

Finland and sauna, sauna and Finland, the two words go together perfectly like vomiting goes with Vappu. However, there are those who, despite some of the best sauna conditions and best sauna company possible, chose not to take advantage of this chance of a lifetime in Lapland. Two people spring to mind when this situation is mentioned. Fortunately, one of you (you know who you are) blotted your copybook by, to the judges knowledge, actually visiting sauna at least once. Thus, a single person, who managed to spend a week in Lapland without gracing the wood sauna with her naked body, receives this award. Marzena Ksiazkiewiczis this year's Sauna Virgin!

The trip to Lapland presents many challenges. Perhaps the greatest challenge of them all is this whole thing with cross-country skiing. We're sure that almost everyone (excepting The Ski God of course) had difficulties, pain and/or anguish at some point while skiing. Some of us had more trouble than others and provided bonus entertainment for those with more ability (damn you all!). One of those people who did not find skiing easy nevertheless impressed us with her courage, energy and never say "fuck this" attitude. We were all astounded by her staying power as she found it quite hard getting to the waterfall but still went all the way and back, returning late and unbowed. Her persistence was beautifully demonstrated in other ways: her attempts to photograph the whole of Lapland, her endeavours to learn strange English slang that left the rest of us completely confused. For these Herculean efforts (he was a Greek too wasn't he?) and more Sophia Glambedaki richly deserves The Tortoise and the Hare Award. Good on you Sophia!

A sadist is one who enjoys inflicting pain. Usually in Lapland doing such a thing is furthest from ones mind. However, through a game renamed Makkara, Jaume Sabate managed to cause more frustration than we thought possible. The game went on forever, the rules were unreasonable and everyone kept giving us cards much too quickly. So Jaume is unquestionably the winner of the dreaded Card Sadism Award. Never will the number two mean the same thing. Oh shit, that means I have to pick up a card. And another one! Bugger! Aaaaaaaararghh...

The next award is given for a sacrifice beyond the call of duty. One such sacrifice occurred on the border between Finland and Norway, the scene of The Group Photograph. That poor soul, Antje Ratzer-Scheibe was saddled with 6.5 million cameras, that all needed to be used to take a version of The Group Photograph, that most sacred of all Lapland trip souvenirs. To make matters worse, the cameras had to be operated barehanded in subzero temperatures and the dog wouldn't sit still. As a final blow, poor Antje was denied the chance to be present in The Group Photograph. Thus, Antje is the unfortunate recipient of the St. Steven the Martyr Award. Our hearts go out to you.

Where are those Abba fans? They seem so hard to find. Don't go wasting your devotion, lay all your love on Abba. Gimme, gimme, gimme more Abba after midnight! Knowing me, knowing you. There is nothing else we can do. The night is young and the music's high. With a bit of rock music, everything is fine. You're in the mood for a dance. We'll be dancing once again but the pain will end. Waterloo! We were defeated you won the war. Love me or leave me we made our choice but believe me, we love Abba too. We do, we do, we do, we do! Anette Hendriksson 's the winner and takes it all. The losers have to fall. By the firelight Anette, you were humming to yourself and singing along to the guitar. Smiling, having fun. Feeling like a number one. You did your very best and it ain't no lie. We put you to the test. We let you try. Mamma Mia! Now I really know. My, my this prize is yours forever. Take the prize now or leave it. This is all you get. Nothing promised no regrets. Won't you please understand what we're giving you. So ring, ring. Why don't you give us a song? I could dance with you honey. If you think it's funny. Does your mother know that you've won? Aaaaaah! All the things I could do, if I won the Abba Prize! It's Anette's world. Thank you for the music.

Amongst foreigners in Finland the lingua Franca is usually, through necessity, English. This gives an advantage to English native speakers which they often use to the full. Many of you will remember those native speakers in Lapland and may also remember wondering if some of them were ever going to shut up. Luckily, there was one native speaker who did provide a pleasant counterpoint to those who were rather louder. We therefore offer grateful acknowledgement to Ilana Kunelius for her welcome relief. To her goes the Silence is Golden Award. Enough said.

We all met people that we liked while in Lapland. One person that our not overly talkative friend Ilana seemed to get on well with was Andrea Gerstl. And why not? To our extremely untrained eyes they seemed to have some things in common, plenty of skill at the Finnish language and at cross-country skiing (at least compared to those among us who are linguistically and physically challenged) and also an inclination not to constantly fill the air with talk. They may well have had other things in common but they are probably in the realm of None of Our Business. And rightly so. These two young people were of course not identical. A principal difference is that Andrea did everything with a certain Austrianess. What is Austrianess? How should we know? We're only judging this thing. Anyway, that very Austrianess reminded us of another Austrian who is competent but of few words. We thus feel justified in giving Andrea the Arnold Schwarzenegger Award for quiet, competent Austrianess. We don't recommend that she marry a Kennedy however.

The trip to Lapland brings together people from many places for a really good time and lots of social interaction. Unfortunately, it had to end and everyone had to go home. In most cases we're lucky and we can enjoy each others company again soon. Luckily in most, but not all cases. Sadly, some of the participants arrive from nowhere, we enjoy getting to know them and just as quickly they're gone. It is for these people that The Flying Dutchwoman Award was created. There were four nominees for this award but three of them were less appropriate for the simple reason that they were not Dutch (and in one case not even a woman). The remaining nominee however, is a fine example Dutch womanhood who came to Finland, did Lapland and then left before many you could say "Are we in Rovaniemi yet?". We therefore must give the Flying Dutchwoman Award to that person, Marietta Mansvelt!

The great qualities of sauna have already been mentioned. The mixed sauna is one aspect that is not always available but can be enjoyed in Kevo. Mixed sauna is not something favoured by all but those who do like it seem to indulge themselves with gusto. It often takes one a while to decide that mixed sauna is for them. This can present a problem as the time in Kevo is unfortunately very short. Zsuzsa Orban made that decision on the final night and managed to try the fruits of mixed sauna that one time. Zsuzsa is therefore the worthy recipient of The Better Late than Never Award in recognition of this important occasion. We're glad you made it!

This next award is, by its very nature, most often won by the more mature Lapland participant. It is well known that age brings increased knowledge and wisdom. This award is simply called The Wisdom of Solomon and is given to that person who the judges feel has made the best job of spreading their knowledge to other people. It was the unanimous decision that the winner this year indeed spread his wisdom extremely well indeed. This year's winner of The Wisdom of Solomon is of course, Ze'ev Lipan !

Two of the features of life in Finland are the heat and the cold. The heat of the sauna and the cold of the weather. Many of the people who come to Finland revel in these conditions, doing what the Finns do, skiing, visiting sauna, rolling naked in the snow, drinking to drop into unconsciousness (like the women on the train who created together with our lawyer a real Finnish atmosphere). Not all foreigners find Finnish lifestyle to their taste however and it was for this reason that The Kaisa Nieminen Typical Finn Award was created. I bet you know who won already. Yes, this years Typical Finn is Ildiko Huszar ! We are sorry, but we could not give the highest rating (6.0 on the scale used for figure ice skating). We were forced to subtract 0.2 points. Ildiko did indeed ski (and she did quite well) and we guess she tasted some makkara as well. That must be the remote relationship between Finns and Hungarians.

There are always couples on the Lapland trips both official and unofficial. We think of people like Michael and Marzena, Mike and the sauna, Dmitri and his knife. This award is just for them. The award, The Domestic Bliss Award, goes this year to Arie Trouwborst. Who could forget the beautiful way that he suspected Elvira of being Mafia from the beginning, the romantic moments as he convinced us all to have her executed, the tear that came to the eye as he demonstrated the depths of his passion by voting for her to die. The love could almost be tasted as we discovered that Elvira was completely innocent and Arie had been instrumental in killing an innocent woman. Elvira had of course enjoyed the whole procedure immensely. It is for this reason that Arie receives The Domestic Bliss Award.

We all found the people and environment of Lapland to be friendly, welcoming, and giving. The people were lovely, the snow drifts welcomed us happily as we flew face-first into them and the Lapland sky gave us so many bloody clouds that we didn't get to see the northern lights. In the face of this generosity many of us really felt like giving something back. One person really did give something. Therefore, we would like to award Ulrika Holmlund the Luovuta Verta Pelasta Henkia Award for her thoughtful donation of her good blood to the Lapland countryside. The gift is surely much appreciated.

Despite the giving and welcoming nature of Lapland, things were not always perfect and comfortable on our stay. People fell down. There were some great bruises and a few more serious injuries. Whenever possible we each did our bit to help out our friends in distress. We picked each other up when we were stuck in deep snow. We said "How are you?" as we zoomed past that struggling skier. We generously threw snow at the hot people in sauna. Although each of us was helpful in our own way, one person distinguished herself with her caring treatment of those less fortunate. Dr. Arja Willman is that person and she comforted many of us with a kind word or maybe a smile. Jaume in particular will remember Arja's careful tending of his horribly injured finger. Even beyond the confines of Lapland Arja was caring for somebody. That somebody is Aurora, her young daughter who was with a baby-sitter for the first time. For all these beautiful gestures and for many more that we're sure we didn't notice Arja is without a doubt Madonna of the Year. She's definitely our icon.

The Lapland group is generally composed mostly of young people. Young people will act as young people do, drinking, playing loud music, having fun and other inappropriate things. The people at Kevo obviously must put up with a lot and one person in particular acted with great restraint. We took a long time to respond to requests. We messed up the place. We didn't listen to anything. We drank quite a bit of alcohol and got drunken and somewhat disorderly. We even waged a snowball war around her. Through all this, Saini was always pleasant, restrained and a damn good host. She therefore must be awarded The Patience of a Saint Award and given our heartfelt thanks.

This next award continues a series of awards given to people for their really nice qualities. It is a sort of all round niceness award. The decathlon in the nice olympics if you will. Of course, everybody on the Lapland trip was nice. We all know that. This winner was particularly nice however. Always with a smile she never had a nasty word. She was always very polite and very grateful for any help given. Such good qualities give one hope for the future of the world. Betti Gergely, you're the winner of Attila the Hun Award for extreme niceness. (*see postscript 1)

There were many kinds of music played on the trip, some acceptable to many and some acceptable to few. Those staying in the building across from the main one will certainly remember the delicate tunes played by Elvira Martinez. Arie particularly seemed to appreciate those vibrant sounds (even further reason for him to be awarded The Domestic Bliss Award). For the high commendation given by Arie, along with the general positive feelings expressed by a number of others, Elvira must be awarded, despite the challenges of a number of worthy nominees, The Sweet Melodies Award.

For some of us Lapland trip participants the sauna skiing will always remain one of the more memorable events of the trip. Others regard the episode with bemusement while others surely think the whole thing was a bloody silly idea. Those who participated certainly seemed to enjoy themselves as did various and sundry photographers. This award goes to one skier who certainly performed very well on the night. Perhaps too well. The judges who watched have therefore decided to award Dmitri Poteriaev The Balls and All Award for his great effor in showing us all we wanted to see and more at this august occasion.

That last award is rather sexist. Clearly, the female members of our little group have no chance of winning it unless we get rather more metaphorical. This award is an attempt to redress that injustice. Since women are rather more sophisticated than the poor creature that is man, nothing so crass as the previous award is suitable. Thus, this award is not given just for particular energy during the sauna skiing but also for good overall exposure of skin and general neglect of wearing clothes. For this award there were some worthy candidates. Certain judges put in a lot of time and considered each very closely. Several times. Photographic evidence was also used extensively. Despite the difficulty, one nominee was chosen. A strong showing was made in the sauna skiing. Good attendance in the sauna was observed and an excellent commitment to wandering around only wearing a towel was displayed. For these reasons and others which we don't have space to reveal, the Linda Brava Award for femaledisrobement goes to Alison Strudwick !

Finnland Alumni hat drei offizielle Sprachen. Im Prinzip sollte jede der drei in der Lage sein, den ganzen Alumni-Kram zu erledeigen. English is number one. Wenn Dein Englisch schlecht, aber dein Finnisch gut ist, dann wirst Du wahrscheinlich mit einer ganzen Reihe von Leuten nicht kommunizieren. Mit anderen wirst Du dagegen gut klarkommen: Mit denen, die gut Finnisch koennen - sprich Finnen -, mit denen, die ihr schlechtes Finnish verbessern wollen und mit denen, die Dich brauchen, um ein Bier zu bestellen. Der grosse Verlierer der letzten Jahre ist Deutsch: wo sind die Zeiten, in denen alle Jahrbuch-Artikeln ins Deutsche uebersetzt wurden und die absolute Mehrheit aller Alumni-Mitglieder deutschsprachig war? Es steht schlecht um die deutsche Sprache in Alumni und die Rechtschreibreform hat ihr uebriges getan. Trozdem hat jemand in Lappland versucht, die deutsche Sprache zu retten, allerdings und leider mit wenig Erfolg. Trotzdem fuehlen wir uns verpflichtet, diesem hehren Unterfangen unseren Respekt in Form eines Preises zu zollen. Die Auszeichnung zum Schutz der deutschen Sprache vor dem Aussterben in Alumni Veranstaltungen und Veroeffentlichungen wird verliehen an Erika Tarnok. Eigentlich schade. Unser Deutsch haette wirklich eine Auffrischung noetig gehabt. (*English translation: postscript 2)

Kate Riley: Scott!

The weather in Lapland demands that you wear appropriate clothing. Being caught outside without sufficient clothes can be fatal. Most of the Lapland participants were sensible about this but one wasn't. He insisted on skiing in -20 degrees with only short pants. He skied in jeans. He almost never wore suntan lotion. He didn't take his trousers off when invited to by a lovely young woman. He went skiing wearing nothing at all. His clothing sometimes didn't match and even when it did it was often in questionable taste. His shoes were about as useful for walking on snow as brussel sprouts. For thesecrimes against fashion and practicality Michael Seth is the clear winner of The Versace Memorial Award for wildly inappropriate and uncoordinated clothing.

This next award was specially created that person who demonstrated he or she was favoured by fortune. There is no doubt in our minds that Sophie Gaspard should win this award. The incident that made the decision to award The How Lucky Can You Get? Award to Sophie came at the party on the final night. We're sure many of you remember that she somehow managed to get a massage from three different men at that party. At the same time. No further proof that Sophie is touched by Lady Luck need be given.

The last of the standard awards is the Daniel Austin Award for controversial comments and making moves on under-agers. Unfortunately, this award cannot be given this year as no one came close to the standards attained in previous years.

We come now to the final, special awards.

Every so often the achievements of a certain individual are so great that we feel compelled to award the extremely prestigious Lapland Life Time Achievement Award. Only two others, with legendary names like Aiti Kaunismaki and Arska have shown the commitment and dedication necessary to receive this award. This year, we recognise that another person has shown the unbelievable fortitude necessary to come back to Lapland over and over again, to enjoy himself in sauna and skiing and, despite advancing years, to put younger people to shame when it comes to energy and ability to take lots of photographs. That person, worthy recipient of the Lapland Lifetime Achievement Award is of course, Mike McDaid!

The next special award is a group award and is given to the whole Lapland group. Never in the long memories of the judges have we seen such a bunch of sleepyheads! Hardened Lapland campaigners were astounded that just about every night by midnight almost everyone was tucked up in bed (probably) asleep. What happened to the continual all night drinking sessions? The spontaneous parties just because it was Tuesday? The people staggering out of bed at 11 am? What is happening to the youth of today? We don't know the answer to these questions (the lack of lunchtime may have something to do with it) but we do know that this year's group is awarded the Sleepyhead Mattresses Award for getting sleep above and beyond the call of duty.

Our second to last prize is not really an award at all but more of a consolation prize. This goes to someone who enriched our lives for the short time we knew him. We give a special prize to our friend on the train for demonstrating to us all so beautifully the special capabilities of an educated Finn. Keep listening to the Pet Shop Boys my friend!

By now some of you are probably thinking "Hey, they've missed someone. One lucky person has been very lucky and got away without getting one of these horrible awards". Not so. One person did give us lots of trouble. For a very long time we couldn't think of an award that Rasa Paulekaite should be given. It's not that Rasa was boring or even especially quiet, it's just that she didn't do anything particularly silly, embarrassing or unusual where the judges could see or hear about it. Then we realised that this was the answer. No one is innocent. You must have been doing something Rasa. It's for this reason that we have awarded you the Secret Squirrel Award for getting away with something without the judges noticing. We'll get you next time.

That's all we've got for this year. Thanks to all victims, err participants and we hope to see at least some of you back next year. Thank you and good night!


  1. You may be wondering why a the award for niceness was named after a vicious barbarian who is famous for helping to destroy one of the greatest civilisations the planet has ever known. It is a little known historical fact that Attila the Hun, on his deathbed, had an amazing revelation. He realised that pillaging and raping are in fact wrong and that people should be nice and should hug each other at least four times a day. Thus, with his final breath he implored his youngest son, Pooky, to use all the money he had taken from Rome to create an organisation to foster good-will and friendship amongst all humans. Thus, the Attila the Hun Foundation for Spreading of Happiness and Warm Fuzziness was born. This award is sponsored by that foundation. Thanks Attila! We should also note that otherwise Attila and the Huns have most probably nothing at all to do with the Hungarians... But who really knows?
  2. Finland Alumni has three official languages. Technically, if you know any of the three you should be able to do all the Alumni stuff. As has already been mentioned, English is the primary language. If your English is not so good but your Finnish is OK then you'll probably not be able to talk to quite a few people but there will be plenty of others who speak Finnish well, want to improve their bad Finnish or want you to ask that Finn over there if they sell beer. The big loser of the three languages in recent times has been German. Where are the reports in German in the yearbook? Where are the hordes of German-speakers taking over the place? Things don't look good for German in Alumni and the reform of German spelling may have killed it completely. In Lapland one person tried to get a bit of German back into things, with very little success. However, for her efforts we feel some reward must be given. Thus to Erika Tarnok goes the German Language Preservation in Alumni Events and Publications Award. Bit of a pity really. Would have been nice to have practised our German.

Michael Jeltsch
Marzena Ksiazkiewicz
Michael Seth