Next Score View the next score

    Finnish ski jump icon Matti Nykanen dies at 55

    HELSINKI — Matti Nykanen, the four-time Olympic ski jumping champion whose personal life was affected by alcohol problems, has died. He was 55.

    Mr. Nykanen, who also won seven World Championship gold medals, died Sunday, the International Ski Federation said. The cause of death was not immediately known.

    Mr. Nykanen became an icon of sport in Finland. He was 18 when he won his first competition in the storied Four Hills tournament, yet with boyish looks seemed even younger.


    He won the gold medal in the large hill event at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics and took all three gold medals four years later in Calgary, winning the normal hill and large hill as well as the team competitions.

    Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
    A look at the news and events shaping the day ahead, delivered every weekday.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    ‘‘He is a legend of his sport,’’ International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said in a statement on Monday. ‘‘Our thoughts are with his family and his friends.’’

    Mr. Nykanen retired in 1991 after winning a then-record 46 individual World Cup events.

    Mr. Nykanen’s success on skis was balanced by a troubled personal life.

    He was twice sentenced to prison sentences for violent behavior, including a stabbing incident in 2004 and an aggravated assault on his wife in 2009. He also began a career as a singer after his retirement.


    Several biographies have been written about Mr. Nykanen, and Finnish filmmakers produced a movie, ‘‘Matti: Hell Is For Heroes,’’ that drew record audiences after its release in 2006.

    ‘‘A legend in so many ways,’’ a former prime minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, wrote on Twitter . ‘‘He will always have a special place in the hearts of winter sports fans around the world.’’