Emil Soravuo was selected as the Helsinki Athlete of the Year 2022

Prominent sports and cultural figures awarded on Helsinki Day

As per tradition, sports and cultural awards were awarded to distinguished athletes and artists on Helsinki Day, 12 June 2022. The winner of the Helsinki Athlete of the Year award was gymnast Emil Soravuo, while the Culture Award of the Year was presented to Timo Ruuskanen and Tuukka Vasama of the Red Nose Company theatre group.

Athlete awards for artistic gymnastics, sailing, wrestling and football

Emil Soravuo was selected as the Helsinki Athlete of the Year 2022. Also presented on Helsinki day are the Young Helsinki Athlete of the Year, the Helsinki Coach of the Year and the Helsinki Sports Club of the Year awards.

Emil Soravuo won bronze in the Floor Final of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Japan at the end of 2021. Finland’s previous Artistic Gymnastics World Championships medal was won in 1997, and Soravuo’s medal is Finland’s first-ever World Championships medal on the floor. The Helsinki Athlete of the Year will receive a €10,000 scholarship.

Two yachtswomen, Ronja Grönblom and Veera Hokka, were selected as the Young Helsinki Athlete of the Year. The duo made a breakthrough to the top of their sport by finishing fourth in the Youth Sailing World Championships in Oman at the end of 2021. Grönblom and Hokka sail in the Olympic class 49er FX and were previously only narrowly eliminated from the Tokyo Olympics. The scholarship for the Young Helsinki Athlete of the Year is €2,500. Grönblom and Hukka share the scholarship between them.

The Olympic coach of the national wrestling team, Juha Lappalainen, is the Helsinki Coach of the Year. Lappalainen is responsible for the high-quality coaching of top Greco-Roman wrestlers in home training and at camps. Currently, Lappalainen is coaching some of Finland’s best and internationally successful wrestlers, including Arvi Savolainen and Elias Kuosmanen. The Helsinki Coach of the Year is rewarded with a €2,500 scholarship.

The Helsinki Sports Club of the Year 2022 is Pallo-Pojat Juniorit ry. The football club has increased its membership by 14% during the challenging coronavirus pandemic and, at the same time, systematically improved its training facilities at Jätkäsaari airdome, for example. The club has gone digital, developing remote communication with parents and organising coaching and other training sessions remotely. The club challenges other top clubs in Helsinki up to the B-junior level. The Helsinki Sports Club of the Year is rewarded with a €5,000 scholarship.

The Helsinki Athlete of the Year 2022 is Emil Soravuo. Photo: Finnish Gymnastics Federation/Pinja Tavasti.

Cultural awardees from a variety of artistic disciplines

The City of Helsinki’s Cultural and Leisure Committee grants an annual €15,000 cultural award to a Helsinki artist to recognise significant artistic merits or important work benefiting cultural life in Helsinki. This year, the prize is shared by two artists, Timo Ruuskanen and Tuukka Vasama.

In 2005, Vasama and Ruuskanen founded the Red Nose Company theatre group that draws inspiration from clownery. The group has expanded to a productive operator employing actors, musicians and circus professionals in Helsinki and touring the country to allow art lovers from other parts of Finland also enjoy their performances. The selection was based on the group’s performances, which are a unique combination of interactive professional theatre, surprising music and topical themes. In particular, the group is known for its tragicomic and novel interpretations of classical pieces. Their programme includes performances for both adults and children. The latest performance, Aleksis Kivi, created in cooperation with the Finnish National Theatre, has proven very successful.

The Artist of the Year Awards, valued at €5,000 each, are granted to Helsinki-based artists from different artistic disciplines. This year, three artists were awarded for their contemporary and significant work in the arts: musician-poet Matti Salo and dancer-choreographers Katja Lundén and Leena Harjunpää.

Matti Salo, aka Asa, is a powerful voice of the suburbs and the younger generation in the eastern districts, a versatile musician, pioneer of rap culture, music writer and a leading figure in various bands. He is the director of his own record label, Roihis Musica, which also publishes the work of other artists, developing the art form and providing a platform for new talent.

Katja Lundén is a flamenco dancer and choreographer whose boundary-breaking work combines Finnish icons and perceived characteristics with fiery flamenco. She is the artistic director of Katja Lundén Company, producing new works every year in Helsinki and on tour. Lundén’s multi-art works combining, for example, flamenco, contemporary dance and a new kind of musical theatre, have toured international theatre and dance festivals.

The third awardee, Leena Harjunpää, has worked extensively as a choreographer and performer. She is also the director of Leena Harjunpää Co., a group founded in 2014. The trademark of her works is a combination of movement with visual, theatrical and sometimes comical elements with a deep focus on the very core of humanity and social structures. According to the Culture and Leisure Committee, Harjunpää’s work deals with different phenomena of the time in a distinctive style. She is a prolific and inventive dance artist, effortlessly combining other art forms with contemporary dance.


Cultural award winners from the Red Nose Company: Tuukka Vasama (left, clown name Mike) and Timo Ruuskanen (right, clown name Zin). Photo: Red Nose Company/Cata Portin.

More on rewards for athletes: https://www.hel.fi/kulttuurin-ja-vapaa-ajan-toimiala/en/grants/grants-for-sports/rewards+for+athletes

More on art and culture awards: https://www.hel.fi/kulttuurin-ja-vapaa-ajan-toimiala/en/grants/cultural-subsidies/art-and-culture-awards