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Over the hill athlete sets movie box office record

January 19, 2006

Fans of ski jumping will remember Matti Nykänen for his brilliant jumping talent in the 1980’s. While on paper he still is the greatest ski jumper of all time; Finns remember Nykänen as a guy who let fame get to his head and spiralled out of control with a hot head and a strong liking for booze. Unfortunately it spelt the end of his ski jumping career and ruined any chances he may have had for a career in coaching. He has been living erratically over the years – tried to be a singer and a stripper(!) among other things. He has been married several times and has been in trouble with the police repeatedly. He was released from prison in late 2005 after serving a sentence for attempted murder. Most of all he is fodder for the tabloids and I am sure it is they who keep him chugging along. With the help of Austrian-Italian journalist Egon Theiner, he published an autobiography in 2004 and showed up at the book release trashed, in true Matti-fashion.

Last week on January 13, the biopic "Matti" was released in cinemas around Finland and with all the hype surrounding the movie, it is no wonder that it was sold out. See below for a commentary on the movie by HS International. With all of the supposed violence and nudity in the movie, I was amazed to hear that the movie was given a K11 rating – meaning young kids can see this movie (a quick search for what exactly K11 means revealed nothing). In any case, what I can see from the previews, it is for an adult audience… Soon we’ll have little Finnish boys who want to be just like Matti.  Yikes!

Who knows how things could have been…? Had Nykänen not let alcohol take control of his life, he might well have been one of the most brilliant ski jumpers and coaches to have ever walked the planet. However, he is fast being eclipsed by Janne Ahonen who keeps racking up the points, records and medals on the World Cup circuit. My, how the mighty fall, Nykänen’s been falling for a long time…

Helsingin Sanomat has written several extensive articles about Nykänen (they make for better reading than I can offer):

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