Matti Nykänen

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Matti Nykänen
Matti Nykänen performing in Kirkkonummi 0495 (cropped).jpg
Personal information
Full name Matti Ensio Nykänen
Born (1963-07-17) 17 July 1963 (age 51)
Jyväskylä, Finland
Professional information
Personal best 191 m (Planica 1985)
World Cup
Seasons 1981–1991
Wins 46
Additional podiums 30
Total podiums 76
Updated on 15 April 2012.

Matti Ensio Nykänen (About this sound pronunciation ) (born 17 July 1963) is a Finnish former ski jumper who won five Olympic medals (four gold), nine World Championships medals (five gold) and 22 Finnish Championships medals (13 gold). Most notably, Nykänen won three gold medals at the 1988 Winter Olympics, becoming, along with Yvonne van Gennip of the Netherlands, the most successful athlete there. Nykänen is the only ski jumper in history to have won all five of the sport's major competitions; gold medal in the Olympic Games (three times), World Championships (once) and Ski flying World Championships (once), and finished first in the overall World Cup (four times) and Four Hills Tournament (twice).

Since the 1990s, his status as a celebrity has mainly been fueled, not by his sporting achievements, but instead by his colourful personal relationships, his career as a singer, and various incidents often related to heavy use of alcohol and violent behavior. He was sentenced to jail for 26 months following a stabbing incident in 2004, and again for 16 months after aggravated assault on his wife in 2009.[1]

Ski jumping career[edit]

Postage stamp depicting Matti Nykänen

For most of the 1980s, Nykänen and Jens Weißflog of East Germany dominated the sport. Nykänen won gold and silver at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. His 17.5-point gold medal victory was the largest margin of victory in Olympic ski jumping at the time.[citation needed] He was also the first ever to win gold medals on both hills at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. In 1986 he flew 191 metres in Planica, a world record that stood briefly until Piotr Fijas (Poland) flew 194 metres, again in Planica, in 1987.[citation needed] His other achievements include a total of nine medals (five golds) at the World Championship level.[citation needed] He also won a total of 46 World Cup competitions (Only topped by record-holder Gregor Schlierenzauer, Austria) and won the overall title four times (also a record, currently shared with Adam Małysz POL).[citation needed] He won the prestigious Four Hills Tournament twice.[2] He competed in the FIS Ski Flying World Championships five times and placed in the medals every time. Nykänen also won the ski jumping competition at the Holmenkollen ski festival twice (1982, 1987). In 1987, Nykänen was awarded the Holmenkollen Medal (shared with Hermann Weinbuch).[3]

On 28 February 2008, he won the International Masters Championship, the world title for veterans.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Nykänen has been married several times:

  • Tiina Hassinen (1986–1988), one son[4]
  • Pia Hynninen (1989–1991), one daughter[4]
  • Sari Paanala (1996–1998)[4] (Nykänen changed his surname to Paanala during this marriage[5])

Relationship with Mervi Tapola[edit]

Nykänen met millionaire sausage heiress Mervi Tapola in 1999,[4] and they were married from 2001 to 2003.[6] They were divorced in 2003, and remarried in 2004.[6] This marriage was tempestuous and gave rise to many well-publicised incidents: The first reported assault against Tapola occurred in June 2000, following which a restraining order was imposed upon Nykänen.[6] In 2004, Nykänen was handed a suspended sentence for assaulting Tapola again. Nykänen had already been accused of assaulting Tapola in 2001, but the charges were withdrawn because Tapola exercised her right to remain silent.[7]

In September 2005, while on probation for another assault, Nykänen was re-arrested four days after his release for again abusing his partner. Nykänen was convicted again and imprisoned for four months on 16 March 2006; Soon after that he stabbed a man in a pizza restaurant in Korpilahti.[7] In the summer of 2009 Tapola (then Tapola-Nykänen) petitioned for divorce a 14th time, but cancelled it.[8]

On Christmas Day 2009 Nykänen allegedly injured his wife with a knife and tried to throttle her with a bathrobe belt. He was charged for attempted manslaughter and held in custody by Tampere police,[7] but was released on 28 December after charges were dropped for insufficient evidence. On 24 August 2010 Nykänen was convicted of grievous bodily harm and sentenced to 16 months in jail[1] and ordered to pay 5,000 euros in compensation to his wife for pain and emotional suffering, and 3,000 euros for legal expenses.[9] In August 2010 Tapola made a 15th request for divorce.

Assault incident[edit]

On 24 August 2004, Matti Nykänen was arrested on suspicion of attempted manslaughter of a family friend after losing a finger pulling competition[10] in Tottijärvi, Nokia.[11] He was found guilty of aggravated assault and sentenced to a 26-month jail term in October 2004.[1] As it was a first offence, he was released from jail in September 2005.

As an entertainer[edit]

When Nykänen's ski jumping career was drawing to a close, a group of businessmen proposed to make him a singer. His first album Yllätysten yö was released in 1992 and sold over 25,000 copies.[12] Nykänen became the second Olympic gold medalist after Tapio Rautavaara to be awarded a golden record in Finland. The next album Samurai (1993) was not as successful.

At the end of the 1990s, due to serious financial problems, Nykänen worked as a stripper in a Järvenpää restaurant. The restaurateur was reproached for exploitation of Nykänen.[13]

In 2002 Nykänen made a comeback as a singer and released the single "Ehkä otin, ehkä en". He also gave his name to a cider brand with the same advertisement slogan.[14] In 2006 Nykänen released his third studio album Ehkä otin, ehkä en.[15] Most of his musical career Nykänen has worked with professional musician Jussi Niemi. Nykänen has toured Finland performing 2 to 3 times a week with the Samurai ensemble led by Niemi.[16]

In November 2009 Nykänen began to present his own cooking web series Mattihan se sopan keitti.



  • A movie about the life of Matti Nykänen simply called Matti was released in 2006, with Finnish actor Jasper Pääkkönen cast as Nykänen. The movie concentrated on Nykänen's exploits beyond the ski-jumping hills.


  • Matti Nykänen, Päivi Ainasoja and Manu Syrjänen: Mattihan se sopan keitti (2007)[17]
  • Juha-Veli Jokinen: Missä me ollaan ja oonko mäkin siellä (2007)[17]
  • Juha-Veli Jokinen: Elämä on laiffii (2006)[17]
  • Kai Merilä: Matin ja minun rankka reissu (2005)[17]
  • Egon Theiner: Grüsse aus der Hölle (2004)[17][18] (the English version of the book Greetings from Hell was published in January 2006)
  • Antero Kujala: Voittohyppy (1999)[17]
  • Antti Arve: Matti Nykänen Maailman paras (1988)[17]
  • Kari Kyheröinen and Hannu Miettinen: Takalaudasta täysillä: Matti Nykäsen tie maailmanhuipulle (1984)[17]
  • Juha-Veli Jokinen: Myötä- ja vastamäessä (2010)[17]


Nykänen's (mostly unintentionally) humorous answers to interviewers or talk-show hosts and other "aphorisms" are extreme forms of yogiisms. They have become extremely popular sayings in Finland.

Cultural references[edit]

  • In 1988 DPR Korea issued a postage stamp depicting Matti Nykänen in the flight during competition.


  1. ^ a b c Young, Brett; Sarkar, Pritha (24 August 2010). "Ski jumping-Olympic champion Nykanen handed 16-month jail term". Reuters. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Holmenkollen medalists – downloadable pdf file.
  4. ^ a b c d "Nykänen, Matti – 7 päivää". 5 October 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Nykäsestä Paanalaksi | Elävä arkisto". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Matti ja Mervi yhdessä kymmenen vuotta
  7. ^ a b c Satakunnan Kansa: Matti Nykänen viilsi keittiöveitsellä Mervi Tapolaa
  8. ^ Helsingin Sanomat: Mervi Tapola-Nykänen veti pois avioerohakemuksen
  9. ^ "Matti Nykäselle yli vuosi vankeutta | Tampere". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  10. ^ Nykäselle yli 2 vuotta vankeutta
  11. ^ Syyttäjä vaatii Nykäsen tuomion koventamista
  12. ^ "Musiikkituottajat – Tilastot – Myydyimmät levyt". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  13. ^ YLE A-tuubi: A-Files 40V: Matti nykänen nakuna (video)
  14. ^ "Olut- ja siideriviikot". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  15. ^ "Matti Nykänen – Ehkä Otin, Ehkä En (Albumi)". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  16. ^ Aluelehti Saimaa: Matti Nykänen Enonkosken Rantsussa
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Matti Nykänen (s. 17.7.1963) – Mattihan se sopan keitti". 17 July 1963. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  18. ^ "HS Sport 9.3.2004 – Matti Nykänen goes on the road to market his biography". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 



External links[edit]