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Matti Nykanen, took ski jumping to new heights, dies at 55

HELSINKI — Four-time Olympic gold medalist Matti Nykanen, considered one of the greatest ski jumpers ever, has died. He was 55.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) says Nykanen, from Finland, who also held seven World Championship titles, died Sunday. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Nykanen, whose career began in 1981, retired in 1991 after winning 46 individual World Cup titles. He won the gold medal in the large hill event at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in 1984 and took all three gold medals four years later in Calgary, winning the normal hill and large hill as well as the team competitions.

He was twice sentenced 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 Nykanen, and Finnish filmmakers produced a movie, “Matti,” that drew record audiences after its release in 2006.

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