LONGYEARBYEN’S CITIZENS OF THE YEAR: Educator Tor Selnes wins Tyfus Statuette; acrobat/musician Sigri Klausen Markussen wins youth scholarship during May 17 gala

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Screenshot of Nina Westby Thorstad performing with Sirkus Svalbardo from video by Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

A dazzling live video postcard of music, stories and awards culminated the world’s northernmost town’s traditional celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day, as the community for a second straight year turned COVID-19 restrictions into creative opportunities for the world to share.

The evening’s traditional highlight presented this year’s Tyfus Statuette (presented to a resident who has done much “to keep the community out of typhus”) to Longyearbyen School assistant Tor Selnes. In his thanks to the community – offered online instead of in person at the gala, as were many of the speeches – he said he was “extremely surprised.”

“For over 20 years I’ve been trolling around Svalbard Turn,” he said, referring to the city’ recreational/sports organization. “I discovered early this is where the city had its pulsating heart. A fantastic place to get to know people.”

“For many years I have been doing swimming and skiing. During the difficult time that we are still in, we have managed to keep this going,” Selnes said, adding many such activities are as chance a much to converse with youths about their many issues as they are physical experiences.

The annual youth cultural scholarship went to Sigri Klausen Markussen, 18, for her multiple stage/music/sports activities since was five years old – including for the award-winning Sirkus Svalnardo whose high-flying aerobatic performance from the historic Taubanesentralen coal-processing facility was the most popular video performance of the evening.

“Tears and goosebumps are never absent when she performs,” Longyearbyen Deputy Mayor Kjetil Figenschou said while presenting the award to Markussen live on the stage at Kulturhuset. He called her “a great role model for both big and small.”

The following are screenshots from the livestream of the gala presented by the city of Longyearbyen and the midday tradition parade through the streets of town, beginning with the awards presented to Selnes and Markussen:

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Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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