Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards

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This article is about the British ski-jumper. For the film based on his life, see Eddie the Eagle (film). For the NRA's safety program, see Eddie Eagle. For the Canadian ice hockey goaltender, see Ed Belfour.
Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards
Edwards michael w.jpg
Michael Edwards in Munich in March 2016
Country United Kingdom
Full name Michael Edwards
Born (1963-12-05) 5 December 1963 (age 52)
Cheltenham, England
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Personal best 115 m (377 ft) National record
Lake Placid, 1997
World Cup career
Seasons 19871989
Updated on 30 March 2015.

Michael "Eddie" Edwards (born 5 December 1963), aka "Eddie the Eagle," is a British skier who in 1988 became the first competitor since 1929 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping. He became the British ski jumping record holder, ninth in amateur speed skiing, (106.8 mph (171.9 km/h)) and a stunt jumping world record holder for jumping over 6 buses.[1][better source needed] Finishing last in the 70m and 90m events. In 2016, he was portrayed by Taron Egerton in the biographical film Eddie the Eagle.

Background[edit]

Edwards was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. His family call him by his given name, "Michael", or "Mike"; "Eddie" is a nickname derived by schoolfriends from his surname.[2] A good downhill skier, he narrowly missed the Great Britain team for that event for the 1984 Games. To improve his chances to qualify for Calgary in 1988, he moved to Lake Placid, New York in the U.S. to train and enter races of a higher standard, but he quickly found himself short on funds. To realise his Olympic dream, he decided to switch to ski jumping for reasons of cost and easier qualification as there were no other British ski jumpers with whom to compete for a place.[3]

Edwards began jumping under the eye of John Viscome and Chuck Berghorn in Lake Placid, using Berghorn's equipment, although he had to wear six pairs of socks to make the boots fit. He was disadvantaged by his weight—at about 82 kg (181 lb), more than 9 kg (20 lb) heavier than the next heaviest competitor—and by his lack of financial support for training—he was totally self-funded.[4] Another problem was that he was very farsighted wearing thick glasses under his goggles, which would mist up at altitude.[4]

Edwards was informed of his qualification for the Games while working as a plasterer and residing temporarily in a Finnish mental hospital due to lack of funds for alternative accommodation (rather than as a patient).[5] He first represented Great Britain at the 1987 World Championships and was ranked 55th in the world. This performance qualified him, as the sole British applicant, for the 1988 Winter Olympics ski jumping competition.

Edwards was the best ski jumper in the United Kingdom, holding the British record of 73.5 m in one of his Calgary jumps in 1988.[6]

1988 Winter Olympics[edit]

During the 1988 Winter Olympics, Edwards competed in, and finished last in, both the 70 m and 90 m events. In the 70 m, he scored 69.2 points from two jumps of 55m; second-last Bernat Sola Pujol of Spain scored 140.4 points from 71 m and 68.5 m jumps; winner Matti Nykänen of Finland had 229.1 points from 89.5m jumps. In the 90 m, Edwards scored 57.5 points from 71 m and 67 m jumps; second-last Todd Gilman of Canada had 110.8 points from 96 m and 86.5 m; Nykänen won again, with 224 points from 118.5 m and 107 m.[7]

From the beginning, the press version of his story was "embroidered with falsehoods".[8] "They said I was afraid of heights. But I was doing sixty jumps a day then, which is hardly something someone who was afraid of heights would do."[8]

His lack of success endeared him to people around the globe. He subsequently became a media celebrity and appeared on talk shows around the world, appearing on The Tonight Show during the Games. The press nicknamed him "Mr. Magoo", and one Italian journalist called him a "ski dropper".[9] However, admirers praised him as representing the true Olympic spirit as an amateur athlete who wanted to compete at the best of his ability for its own sake, regardless of his chances of winning.[10]

The widespread attention that Edwards received in Calgary was embarrassing to some in the ski jumping establishment. Shortly after the Olympics finished, the entry requirements were strengthened in order to make it nearly impossible for anyone to follow his example.[11]

At the closing ceremony, the president of the Organizing Committee, Frank King, singled out Edwards for his contribution. King said looking at the competitors: "You have broken world records and you have established personal bests. Some of you have even soared like an eagle."[12]

The Eddie "The Eagle" Rule[edit]

In response to the Edwards phenomenon, in 1990, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) instituted what became known as the Eddie the Eagle Rule, which requires Olympic hopefuls to compete in international events and be placed in the top 30 percent or the top 50 competitors, whichever is fewer.[11]

Edwards failed to qualify for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, and the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway. He got a five-year sponsorship from Eagle Airlines, a small British charter company, to his attempt to reach the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan but failed to qualify for those as well.[8]

Return to Calgary and other media appearances[edit]

On 13 February 2008, Edwards made a return visit to Calgary to take part in festivities marking the twentieth anniversary of the Games. During his visit, he rode the zip-line at Canada Olympic Park with a member of the Jamaican bobsled team (the ride simulates the speed of a ski-jumper) and led a procession of skiers down the slopes of the park while carrying an Olympic torch.[13][14]

Edwards was chosen as a torchbearer in the relay for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He ran with the torch on 7 January 2010 in Winnipeg.[15]

Edwards released a book (and a video) called On the Piste.[16] He recorded a song in Finnish entitled "Mun nimeni on Eetu" ("My name is Eetu"), though he does not speak Finnish. Later, he recorded another Finnish language song: "Eddien Siivellä" ("On Eddie's Wing"). Both of these songs were composed and written by popular Finnish artist Irwin Goodman.

Edwards appeared in a number of advertising campaigns, e.g. on television, promoting cars, and commanded fees of £10,000 an hour. Nevertheless, he declared bankruptcy in 1992, claiming that a trust fund for his earnings was not set up properly.[17] In 2003 he graduated from De Montfort University in Leicester with a degree in law.[18] "I've been interested in law since taking out a civil action against my trustees 10 years ago," he said in a 2001 interview.[19]

For several years in the early 2000s, he co-hosted a Sunday morning show with Trish Campbell on BBC Radio Gloucestershire.[citation needed]

In December 2005, he appeared on Five's The Gadget Show, testing new skiing gadgets with one of the presenters.[citation needed]

He appeared on BBC1's The One Show on 20 November 2008 in a film celebrating "The Great British Underdog" in the wake of John Sergeant's resignation from Strictly Come Dancing.[citation needed]

In January 2010, Edwards advertised Churchill car insurance, the adverts being aired to coincide with his carrying the Olympic Torch on 7 January 2010.[citation needed]

In 2011, he returned to Planica in Slovenia and visited one of the biggest ski jumps in the world. For the first time, he brought his family with him under the ski slopes and made a promotion video, "Eddie 'the Eagle' Lands in Slovenia",[20] while visiting places such as Kranjska Gora, Lake Bled, Ljubljana, Postojna Caves, Lipica, Portorož and Piran.[citation needed] The video was later posted on YouTube and many UK websites. Edwards described the visit to Slovenia as one of the family's nicest trips so far.[citation needed]

On 25 February 2012, he appeared as a competitor on episode 2 of BBC1's Let's Dance for Sport Relief, 2012 and got through to the final on most public votes.[citation needed] His performances were accompanied by the Royal British Legion Band & Corps Of Drums Romford.[21]

On 24 March 2012, he appeared as a competitor on the first Winter Wipeout (Total Wipeout) celebrity special.[citation needed] He came first in each round and won the final, beating Tony Mortimer (formerly of pop group East 17) and Steven Arnold (Ashley Peacock of the UK soap Coronation Street).[citation needed]

In January 2013, Edwards competed in the ITV celebrity diving programme Splash!.[citation needed]Previously involved in gymnastics, he was determined to master some difficult dives.[citation needed] He did an inward 1.5 somersault pike from 10 m in the semi-final.[citation needed] In the final, he did a synchro dive with Tom Daley.[citation needed] He later became the winner, beating competitors Jake Canuso and Linda Barker by public vote.[citation needed]

In December 2013, Edwards competed unsuccessfully in the BBC quiz show Eggheads on a celebrity edition.[citation needed]

In January 2014, he commentated on the Channel 4 TV programme The Jump,[22] where 12 famous people took part in winter sports.[citation needed] As part of each episode, Edwards jumped off the largest of three ski jumps which gives the series its name.[citation needed] In the same year he appeared as a guest on the ITV2 comedy show Fake Reaction.[citation needed]

Biopic[edit]

A film chronicling the life story of Edwards had been planned by Irish director Declan Lowney since 2007. Comedian Steve Coogan was originally chosen for the title role.[23] Edwards was said to be pleased with the choice but also joked that Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise would be better suited for the role.[8] In 2009, Lowney announced that Rupert Grint would instead play the part. The film was scheduled to begin production once Grint completed work on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2, but it did not go ahead.[24]

On 23 December 2014, it was reported that Gary Barlow was in talks to write the entire soundtrack for the film.[25] On 23 January 2015, it was reported that Edwards may perform the stunts in the movie about his life.[26]

Ultimately, Matthew Vaughn produced and Dexter Fletcher directed the biopic, starring Taron Egerton as Edwards, and Hugh Jackman as his trainer.[27] The film, Eddie the Eagle, was released in early 2016.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards". UK After Dinner Speakers and Motivational Speakers. Now You're Talking. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Edwards 2016, Chapter 2.
  3. ^ "Calgary '88 icon Eddie the Eagle returns to carry 2010 Olympic torch". Yahoo! Sports Canada. 1 November 2009. Archived from the original on 3 November 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Viner, Brian (8 December 2008). "Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards: 'It was while I was in a mental hospital I heard I was in the Olympic team'". The Independent. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  5. ^ Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards – Olympic legend YouTube
  6. ^ "Eddie the Eagle backs ski plans". BBC News. 20 December 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "Calgary 1988 Official Report" (PDF). XV Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee. LA84 Foundation. 1988. pp. 597–605. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d Jeffries, Stuart (3 September 2007). "Flying high". Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 September 2007. 
  9. ^ "Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards wins over fans at 1988 Winter Olympics". CBC Archives. 
  10. ^ Pringle, , Valerie (24 February 1988). "Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards wins over fans at 1988 Winter Olympics". Midday. anadian Broadcasting Corporation. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Pye, Steven (4 February 2014). "Reappraising Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  12. ^ Litke, James (29 February 1988). "Golden light extinguished, but memories will live on". Rome News-Tribune (N.Y.). AP. 
  13. ^ McIntyre, Doug (14 February 2008). "Golden Memories Fired Up!". Calgary Sun. Archived from the original on 17 February 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  14. ^ Zip-line ride: Global News Calgary (television broadcast), 13 February 2008
  15. ^ James Keller (1 November 2009). "Calgary '88's Eddie the Eagle returns to carry torch". CTV. The Canadian Press he is also said to crry the torch for the 2018 games. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  16. ^ Crowe, Dave; Edward, Eddie (1999). On the Piste. London: Chameleon. ISBN 0-233-99497-1. 
  17. ^ "Eddie the Eagle: 'I went from £6,000 a year to £10,000 an hour'". The Telegraph. 19 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Eddie aims to be legal eagle". BBC News. 17 July 2003. 
  19. ^ "Take a look at me now". BBC Sport. 1 March 2001. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  20. ^ Eddie 'the Eagle' Lands In Slovenia on YouTube
  21. ^ "Royal British Legion Band & Corps of Drums Romford Achievements". Royal British Legion Band & Corps of Drums Romford. 
  22. ^ "Channel 4's The Jump". Channel 4. 
  23. ^ "Coogan to play Eddie 'The Eagle'". BBC News. 8 August 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  24. ^ Sweeney, Ken (22 November 2009). "The Diary: Irish director makes leap of faith in casting for 'Eagle' biopic". Sunday Tribune. Dublin, Ireland. Archived from the original on 17 February 2010. 
  25. ^ "Barlow 'for Eddie The Eagle music'". Belfast Telegraph. 23 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards offers to ski jump for biopic". BBC News. 23 January 2015. 
  27. ^ "The Eddie the Eagle Movie Will Be 'Breaking Away Meets Slap Shot'". Empire. 

External links[edit]