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), better known as Eddie the Eagle, is an English ski-jumper and Olympian who in 1988 became the first competitor since 1928 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping, finishing last in the Normal Hill and Large Hill events. He held the British ski jumping record from 1988 to 2001. He also took part in amateur speed skiing, running at 106.8 km/h (66.4 mph), and became 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. After a taste of skiing on a school trip aged 13, he developed his skills on dry slopes, then worked for a season at Glenshee in Scotland. Having not made the grade as a downhill skier, he switched to ski jumping as there were no other British ski jumpers with whom to compete for a place.
Edwards began jumping under the supervision 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, 12st 13lb), 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 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. He received confirmation of his qualification for the games while working as a plasterer and temporarily residing in a Finnish mental hospital, due to lack of funds for alternative accommodation rather than as a patient.
Edwards' jump of 71m at Calgary in the Winter Olympics was then a British record (now 134.50m held by Halifax-born Sam Bolton). His Olympic jump still puts him sixth on the all-time list of British ski jumpers.
1988 Winter Olympics
During the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, 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."
"Eddie the Eagle" Rule
Following the widespread attention that Edwards received in Calgary shortly after the Olympics finished, the entry requirements were made stricter, making 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. Edwards learned the lyrics phonetically and the song reached no.2 in the Finnish charts. The songs were written by Finnish singer Irwin Goodman.
In the same year (1991), Edwards completed a charity ski jump at a ski slope in Christchurch, Dorset. He raised £23,000 for BBC Children in Need by jumping over 10 cars using a ski jump made of scaffolding.
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.
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.
In 2021, Edwards appeared on the UK version of The Masked Dancer masked as Rubber Chicken. He was the fourth celebrity to be unmasked.
A biopic 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, but 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 did not go ahead.
In March 2015, it was announced that 20th Century Fox had acquired the film, with Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman starring and Dexter Fletcher directing, from a screenplay by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton. Egerton would portray the adult Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, Tom and Jack Costello younger versions of Edwards, while Jackman would portray his coach, Bronson Peary. It was later announced that Christopher Walken had also joined the film, portraying the role of Bronson Peary's mentor.
The film, Eddie the Eagle, was released in early 2016 and grossed a worldwide total of $46.1 million. In the UK, it grossed $12.8m making it the highest grossing British film of 2016. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 82% based on 197 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10.
- Eric Moussambani: Eric "the Eel", another famously unlikely Olympian
- Philip Boit
- Trevor Misipeka
- Vinko Bogataj
- Steven Bradbury
- Elizabeth Swaney
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- Zip-line ride: Global News Calgary (television broadcast), 13 February 2008
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- by iain martin · 8 February 2019 (8 February 2019). "Episode 30: Skiing in Morocco, Powder Technique, Team GB Medals & Eddie The Eagle Pt2 – The Ski Podcast". Theskipodcast.com. Retrieved 22 May 2020.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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- "Eddie the Eagle: 'I went from £6,000 a year to £10,000 an hour'". The Telegraph. 19 February 2012.
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- "Take a look at me now". BBC Sport. 1 March 2001. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
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- 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.
- DeFore, John (13 March 2015). "'Eddie The Eagle' Sundance Review". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- "Eddie the Eagle | Coming to theaters on Feb 26th, 2016". Eddie The Eagle | 20th Century Fox. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
- Fletcher, Dexter (26 February 2016), Eddie the Eagle, retrieved 1 April 2016
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- Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards at Olympic.org (archived)
- Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards at OlympicChannel.com (archived)
- Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards at Olympics.com
- Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards at British Olympic Association
- Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards at Olympedia
- Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards at FIS (ski jumping)
- Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards at Olympics at Sports-Reference.com (archived)
- Official website
- Eddie the Eagle at IMDb
- BBC Gloucestershire interview with Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards February 2008
- Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards Speaking Profile and Video
- Eddie The Eagle 1991 Charity Ski Jump