Matti Nykänen Biography

(Finnish Ski jumper and Four-Time Olympic Gold Medallist)

Birthday: July 17, 1963 (Cancer)

Born In: Jyväskylä, Finland

Matti Nykänen first rose to success and fame during the 1988 Winter Olympics for his prowess in the art of skiing. This professional ski jumper’s tryst with skiing started at the young age of eight, when he first took the ski slopes after accepting a dare made by his father. From that moment, Matti knew that he was hooked. As a young boy, he refused to be daunted by the large jumps, making it his personal ambition to conquer each and every one. When he was eleven years old, Nykänen entered his first competition and won first place for his age group. After that, he continued entering in competitions, spending the majority of his days jumping and perfecting his skills. His proximity to a ski slope gave him an advantage of his rivals and provided him with hours of uninterrupted practice time. Since his performance in his first Winter Olympics, Nykänen has gone on to continue competing, winning dozen more medals and changing the face of the sport.Despite the troubles that have plagued him during his later years, there is no denying the impact that he had on the world of skiing. To this day, athletics can look up to him and study his abilities on the slopes, marveling at his feats on the ski jump

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Matti Ensio Nykänen

Died At Age: 55


Spouse/Ex-: Mervi Tapola, Pia Hynninen, Sari Paanala, Tiina Hassinen

father: Ensio Nykänen

mother: Vieno Nykänen

children: Eveliina Nykänen, Sami Nykänen

Born Country: Finland

Ski Jumpers Finnish Men

Died on: February 4, 2019

place of death: Lappeenranta, Finland

Diseases & Disabilities: Pneumonia

Cause of Death: Pancreatitis

More Facts

awards: FIS Ski Jumping World Cup champions
Olympic champions in ski jumping individual normal hill
Olympic champions in ski jumping individual large hill

Olympic champions in men's ski jumping team large hill
World champions in ski jumping individual large hill
World champions in men's ski jumping team large hill
World champions in Ski-flying
Four Hills Tournament winners

Childhood & Early Life
Nykänen was born on July 17th 1963 in Finland. The pro was introduced to ski jumping at an early age of eight and the sport has since then become a passion.
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In 1981, when he was eighteen, he changed the direction of his career by taking home the gold in the ‘FIS Junior World Championships’ and then, months later, took home his first victory in the ‘World Cup’ championships. From that moment on, Nykänen was a force to be reckoned with.
During the early stages of his career, he was described as “untouchable” by many of his competitors. And that assessment only seemed to become even more fitting in 1984, when Matti won both the gold and silver medals during the ‘Winter Olympics’. He won his gold medal by a 17.5 lead, the largest in skiing history at that time.
In 1988, he became the first person to ever take gold medals on both hills at the competition, creating another record for himself. He won a total of three gold medals during the ‘Olympic Games’ that year, proving that he was a force to be reckoned with.
During the course of his career, he won a total of 46 ‘World Cup’ victories and continues to hold the record for men’s ski jumping. His personal best stands at 191 m, an impressive feat that few have come close to in the decades since Nykänen blazed his trail in the art of ski jumping.
In 1991, he officially retired but it was obvious that he’d left his mark on the skiing community. To this day, competitors and fans alike describe him as “genius” and look to him for inspiration and guidance.
After his retirement from skiing, he focused on several different career paths, including becoming an author. Several others also wrote books about him and his career, proving people all over the world with an opportunity to learn about Nykänen from those who knew him best.
One career path that few speculated was his choice to become a singer. In 1992, shortly after his retirement from skiing, his released his first album to a great deal of success. In addition to his gold medals, he was also awarded a gold record to prove that he was a force to be reckoned with off the slopes as well.
However, when he released his follow up album, he was not nearly as successful as he had been in the beginning of his singing career. A comeback album released in 2006 received very little attention and made it obvious that Nykänen would be best known for his performance in athletic events.
In 2008, he was once again thrust into the public spotlight for a much more positive reason. He won the ‘Masters Championship’, which is the world title for veteran athletics.
Awards & Achievements
During the course of his career, Nykänen won a total of five Olympic medals and competed in a total of 76 podiums.
In 1987, he was awarded the Holmenkollen Medal. This award is the highest award that Norway offers skiing competitors and signifies that recipients have high rankings in international competitions. He shares this honor with Hermann Weinbuch, a German skier.
Personal Life & Legacy
Unfortunately for Nykänen, his personal life and relationships have become just as memorable among the public as his performance in World Cups and Olympic games. He has been married four times and has two children from his first and second wife. One of his most memorable marriages was that with Mervi Tapola in 2001.
The couple divorced, only to be remarried in 2004. During their marriage, many incidents of assault were reported against Tapola, putting Nykänen in the limelight for a less than favorable reason.
Even after that, he was arrested quite a few times for several counts of assault against different people. However, his image was tarnished even further in 2004 when he was arrested on suspicion of attempted manslaughter. The legal systems found him guilty of aggravated assault and he spent the next twenty-six months in jail. He was released early since it was only his first offense.
In 1988, DPR Korea released a postage stamp featuring Nykänen. This stamp showcases his abilities in the area of flight competition and features an action shot of Nykänen doing what he did best.

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