Ski jumping champion

You too have been ordering a beer, or two or three, in a bar from time to time. But that wasn’t in the newspapers the next day. Consider yourself lucky because your name isn’t Matti Nykänen.

40 years of my life are over and when I’m asked what the track has been like so far, I reply: sometimes smooth, sometimes sticky. And I would add: Let’s see what the conditions will be like in the next 40 years.

But all of the different periods in my life have one thing in common: They have been and still are in the public focus. Whether I was cheering in ski jumping world cup stadiums in Sarajevo, Calgary and Oslo or had dinner in a restaurant with friends or had a glass of beer in a pub: Matti here, Matti there. I don’t have a private life, but I do indeed have a bad image.

But is everything true that is being printed in the rainbow press of my homecountry and all over the world ? And, most importantly: Is it morally correct to tell all those things, that have been told ? What is being written about me, partly origins in the urge to have me in the news.

I know a few people, among them journalists and media-people, who keep spreading the word about me, and use to drink a little and sometimes even a little too much as well.

I’m on the front page, others aren’t.

The truth is: a person in the public focus needs the media, just as the media needs him. No media, no attention for sports, or at least no the honors for athletic achievement or ski jumping world cup . But media sometimes makes you look like a clown.

Not that I feel like a clown. But at times things that actually happened, are shown in a totally wrong way by journalists or even described worse than they actually were.

When I get in touch with media people, I cannot be myself. I know that I’m being presented in a wrong way most of the time and I gave up reading newspapers and magazines. When I do something stupid, they report about it. When I do it twice, they do too. And when I don’t do it a third time, they write about it anyway, just as if something had happened.

What am I supposed to do when only bad news are good news, when it’s “business as usual” ?

I can’t remember when I did my first interview in the world cup. And in the 80ies I didn’t have a really good relationship with the press. To me their questions were not creative and nothing but bothering me: “What do you feel like before a jump ? After ski jump ? What do you think about this or that victory ?”

The same pointless bla-bla all the time. My will to communicate was very limited. I wasn’t able to find a good, healthy way to deal with media and TV-stations and take advantage of it.


Days before ski jumping world cup

The only thing I wanted was jumping, jumping, jumping. My daily schedule consisted of training, eating and sleeping. Anything else didn’t matter to me – but it should have. I was more open and outgoing than other athletes on the finnish national team that followed, but I missed a manager or press spokesman, who could have organized interviews or events for me. There’s a profession like that today, but there was none at that time.

When you turn 40 times come up when you look back and think about the yesterday, today and tomorrow. I had the idea to write a book with Kari Merilae or with my friend Tapio Pieskae. But the first one is too much of a “boulevard-journalist”, the last one a too close friend. So I was really glad when Matti Pulli got me in contact with the Austrian journalist and author Egon Theiner. During our time together, which wasn’t always easy, we became friends. He’s serious and objective and he used to ask questions for so long and in such an intense way until it finally fitted the overall concept.

This book describes my life, my great times and my sad moments. This is my book, my answer to everything that’s been told about me in the past years.

What is written down here, is my truth. This book must and should be read. It belongs onto every bookshelf, right next to the bible.


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