Athletics Sports

The falling Fin

d3c5c5368a45683018ab1ba9f71ee47e - The falling Fin

PostuumVan olympic hero to stripper: Matti Nykänen, the Maradona of the ski jumping

The falling Fin

Even more than for his athletic talent will Matti Nykänen (55) to be reminded to live a life full of excesses.

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Matti Nykänen floats to gold at the Olympic Winter games of Calgary 1988. Wolfgang Kluge/belgaimage

PostuumVan olympic hero to stripper: Matti Nykänen, the Maradona of the ski jumping

The falling Fin

Even more than for his athletic talent will Matti Nykänen (55) to be reminded to live a life full of excesses.

Marc Vermeiren

BrusselAls George Best, Diego Maradona or Dennis Rodman a Finnish cousin, then called Matti Nykänen. Because just like the other three is: how large his talent was, it was to a large extent surpassed by his whims. When Nykänen in 1991 at the age of 28 the ramp goodbye, said, he had a string of records to his name: the most olympic medals (5), the farthest jump (191 metres) and the largest number of toernooizeges (46). With such a hall of fame you hear in Scandinavia at the athletic aristocracy. Then you have a Tom Boonen, Johan Cruyff or Michael Schumacher, an all-star for life. ’is a man’s nicknames say it all: the Angel of the Sconces or the UFO, which stood for Unbeatable Flying Object. On the 8th tears in his hometown of Jyväskylä for the first time down a slope. Three years later he wins his first match. The ramp in Jyväskylä has a chairlift and artificial light, making the young teenager jump after jump after jump, his technique can be refined. It lifts him well above the competition.


Nykänen continues even after his retirement the headlines. Unfortunately, that is almost always with bad news, caused by his great weakness: alcohol. On his 14th he started to drink. In the mid-eighties, diving the first signs of alcohol abuse. In 1987 he because of misconduct, banned from the prestigious Vierlandentoernooi. In 1991 he takes the last part in a big race. On WK ends he – exhausted, due to fifteen years nachtbraken – as the 50th and final.

After his retirement, he derails, he only way. Part two of his life begins with the wacky idea to make a record with Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards. The best ski jumper of all times in duet with the worst of all times, reads the pitch. If that plan fails, pull Nykänen than but solo in the studio. He brings in 1992, a record that will be around the arctic circle still be quite nice sells.

As the best jumper ever hear Nykänen
with the biggest sports stars of Scandinavia

Everything he tries to drankduivel to fight. Rehabilitation clinics, medicines, therapies: the benefit is only short-lived. Circus Nykänen starts doller to run, so he grows up to be a fixed value in the Scandinavian boulevardpers. Every newspaper reporter in the service who are full-time on Nykänens grilling mercy. In October 2004 he reaches the bottom. With 3,4 promille in his blood, he stabs a friend down. The duo is in a dispute becomes involved during a game of sormikoukku – a bizarre Scandinavian pastime where two contestants the middle fingers and hold them in each other hooks and their opponent across a table trying to pull. He gets 26 months in prison, of which he is half sentence. Four days after his release, burn the stop again, as he and his wife Mervi a beating. On christmas day 2009 he tries to get her to choke, after her first with a knife had threatened. This time he was 16 months hum.

In the meantime his fortune had disappeared, allowing himself to just a list of bizarre jobs venture. He works as an operator for a relatiebureau, writes a blog about food, consider a career in politics and dusts again the slats. In 2008, he is actually world champion in the Masters. The brief flare-ups in the middle of endless misery.


In the run-up to the winter Olympics of 1998, takes the Dutch journalist Guido Bindels a quest to find the fallen hero. Bindels will find him in Järvenpää, about thirty kilometers from Helsinki. “In the treurigste circumstances,” he recalls. Nykänen appears in an erotic restaurant and seksclub to work, where he acts as a waiter, publieksopwarmer, singer, bartender, dj, and – yes – a stripper. Keen on an interview was Nykänen not, but he was polite and personable. Since the establishment, however, what publicity can use, Bindels him to talk. “That’s a big sportsman so low could drop, I kept it not.”

High flying, deep fall. That had to be the tragic end. His fifth wife Pia made yesterday the news known. A cause of death, she revealed not. Nykänen was last year diagnosed with diabetes, but he seemed to get his life back in order. The last few weeks he again started touring as a singer. Last week Friday visited him in Helsinki a full room. So came the end is still unexpected.

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