Racking Pain and Mental Wounds - Matti Lehikoinen on Overcoming His Major Injury 3

Heavy stuff from the man who rode himself to the doors of death while racing downhill in Sweden back in 2011. Matti's path back to health is an inspiration. "Life cannot be struck with the speed limiter set at forty."

The Nordic Championships were organized six years ago in Sweden. The speed was terrifying then as well, but Matti rode the competition slope precisely. Suddenly the riding line went slightly to one side and a small bump threw the rear wheel into the air. Matti became a passenger, as the bike was already on its way towards a pine tree at full speed.

The helmet split on both sides and the chin protection was torn off. There was a compound fracture running across his face and his jaw was split into two pieces. The upper jaw was hanging down, his nose was pushed in and his tongue was split. The eye ground was broken and his cheekbones smashed into pieces. Matti recalls his collision with the tree and shows his tongue which still has a long scar.

The collision was violent, but Matti stayed conscious the whole time. He was able to take his helmet off himself, but he could not speak because his face was so badly damaged. With every moment that passed, breathing became more and more difficult. His tongue swelled up against his palate, his nose was out of action and there was a lot of blood flowing into his mouth.

Fortunately the first aid team arrived quickly and made a hole in his windpipe. Matti thinks that the immediate tracheotomy saved his life.

"I remember when I took my last breath. The pain eased and everything went white. The next memory is of the ambulance. I was lying on the stretcher and the floor of the ambulance was covered in blood..."

Read the full story, including the strategies he used to help recover, at mavic.exposure.co/matti-lehikoinen.

Credit: Yle Finland // Tero Kyllönen
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