Eddie the Eagle
|Eddie the Eagle|
|Full name||Michael Edwards|
|Born||5 December 1963|
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|World Cup career|
|Updated on 17 December 2018.|
Michael Edwards (born 5 December 1963), known as "Eddie the Eagle", is an English skier who in 1988 became the first competitor since 1928 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping, finishing last in the 70 m and 90 m events. He became the British ski jumping record holder, ninth in amateur speed skiing (106.8 km/h (66.4 mph)), and a stunt jumping world record holder for jumping over 6 buses.
Edwards was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. His family calls him by his given name, Michael. "Eddie" is a nickname derived by schoolfriends from his surname. Having not made the grade as a downhill skier, he decided to switch to ski jumping as there were no other British ski jumpers with whom to compete for a place.
Edwards began jumping under the eye of John Viscome and Chuck Berghorn in Lake Placid, New York, 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, being totally self-funded. Another problem was that he was very nearsighted, wearing thick glasses under his goggles, which would mist up at altitude.
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). He first represented Great Britain at the 1987 World Championships in Oberstdorf in Bavaria, West Germany and was ranked 55th in the world. This performance qualified him as the sole British applicant for the 1988 Winter Olympics ski jumping competition.
1988 Winter Olympics
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 61.0 m; second-last Bernat Solà 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 89.5 m 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.
From the beginning, the press version of his story was "embroidered with falsehoods". "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."
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".
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."
The Eddie "The Eagle" Rule
The widespread attention that Edwards received in Calgary was embarrassing to some in the ski jumping establishment. In 1990, shortly after the Olympics finished, the entry requirements were strengthened in order to make it nearly impossible for anyone to follow his example: 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% or the top 50 competitors, whichever is fewer.
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 support his attempt to reach the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, but failed to qualify for those as well.
Return to Calgary and other media appearances
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.
Edwards released a book (and a video) called On the Piste. In 1991 he recorded a single in Finnish entitled "Mun nimeni on Eetu" ("My name is Eetu"), B-sided with "Eddien Siivellä" ("On Eddie's Wing") though he does not speak Finnish. The songs were written by Finnish singer 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. In 2003, he graduated from De Montfort University in Leicester with a degree in law. "I've been interested in law since taking out a civil action against my trustees 10 years ago," he said in a 2001 interview.
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", while visiting places such as Kranjska Gora, Lake Bled, Ljubljana, Postojna Caves, Lipica, Portorož and Piran. 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.
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. His performances were accompanied by the Royal British Legion Band & Corps Of Drums Romford.
In January 2014, he commentated on the Channel 4 TV programme The Jump, where 12 famous people took part in winter sports. As part of each episode, Edwards jumped off the largest of three ski jumps. In the same year he appeared as a guest on the ITV2 comedy show Fake Reaction.
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. 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. 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.
On 23 December 2014, it was reported that Gary Barlow was in talks to write the entire soundtrack for the film. On 23 January 2015, it was reported that Edwards might perform the stunts in the movie about his life.
- Eric Moussambani: Eric "the Eel", another famously unlikely Olympian
- Philip Boit
- Trevor Misipeka
- Vinko Bogataj
- Steven Bradbury
- Elizabeth Swaney
- Edwards, Eddie (2016-02-28). Eddie the Eagle: My Story. Graymalkin Media. ISBN 9781631680649. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
- Edwards, Michael. "Biography". Eddie the Eagle Official Site. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
- "Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards". UK After Dinner Speakers and Motivational Speakers. Now You're Talking. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
- Edwards 2016, Chapter 2.
- "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.
- 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.
- Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards – Olympic legend YouTube
- "Eddie the Eagle backs ski plans". BBC News. 20 December 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "Eddie The Eagle". 24 February 2009.
- "Calgary 1988 Official Report" (PDF). XV Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee. LA84 Foundation. 1988. pp. 597–605. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
- Jeffries, Stuart (3 September 2007). "Flying high". Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
- "Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards wins over fans at 1988 Winter Olympics". CBC Archives.
- Litke, James (29 February 1988). "Golden light extinguished, but memories will live on". Rome News-Tribune (N.Y.). AP.
- Pye, Steven (4 February 2014). "Reappraising Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
- McIntyre, Doug (14 February 2008). "Golden Memories Fired Up!". Calgary Sun. Archived from the original on 23 June 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
- Zip-line ride: Global News Calgary (television broadcast), 13 February 2008
- James Keller (1 November 2009). "Calgary '88's Eddie the Eagle returns to carry torch". CTV. The Canadian Press he is also said to carry the torch for the 2018 games. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
- Crowe, Dave; Edward, Eddie (1999). On the Piste. London: Chameleon. ISBN 0-233-99497-1.
- "Eddie the Eagle: 'I went from £6,000 a year to £10,000 an hour'". The Telegraph. 19 February 2012.
- "Eddie aims to be legal eagle". BBC News. 17 July 2003.
- "Take a look at me now". BBC Sport. 1 March 2001. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- on YouTube
- "Royal British Legion Band & Corps of Drums Romford Achievements". Royal British Legion Band & Corps of Drums Romford.
- Millar, Paul (3 February 2013). "'Splash!' final most-watched Saturday night show". Retrieved 25 April 2018.
- "Channel 4's The Jump". Channel 4.
- EDWARDS, EDDIE. "Eddie's Jump". Channel 4.
- Kassam, Ashifa (6 March 2017). "Eddie 'the Eagle' soars again: ski jumper returns 30 years after Calgary Olympics" – via The Guardian.
- "Coogan to play Eddie 'The Eagle'". BBC News. 8 August 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007.
- 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.
- "Barlow 'for Eddie The Eagle music'". Belfast Telegraph. 23 December 2014.
- "Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards offers to ski jump for biopic". BBC News. 23 January 2015.
- "The Eddie the Eagle Movie Will Be 'Breaking Away Meets Slap Shot'". Empire.
- Media related to Michael Edwards at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website
- Eddie the Eagle on IMDb
- BBC Gloucestershire interview with Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards February 2008
- Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards Speaking Profile and Video