|HAPPY TO BE ALIVE- Eddie the Eagle trained in Lake Placid and took the world by storm with his honest charm and 58th place finish (out of 58) on the large hill in Calgry ’88.|
Salisbury Winter Sports Club
In 1985 a guy by the name of Eddie Edwards showed in Lake Placid for summer training. Immediately recognizable as an odd character he none the less was determined to represent England in ski jumping, regardless of his obvious vision impairment, complete lack of jumping experience, and a body style that suited rugby more than Nordic skiing. I would often provide assistance to Eddie in the form of a ride in my old Toyota Corolla wagon from the home of the old woman he stayed with, and gardened for in exchange for room and board, to the jumps for practice. I never expected much to become of Eddie and after a while he disappeared until I met up with him again in Steamboat Springs Colorado a few weeks prior to the ‘88 Winter Olympics. I believe the nationals were going on at the time and while in Steamboat I was invited by one of the local Nordic combiners to his home for a Super a Bowl party. This Super Bowl was tongue and cheek referred to by my Rocky Mountain jumping comrades as the “Bronco game” as their beloved Denver Broncos had appeared quite frequently in many a Super Bowl of that era. The party started in raucous fashion with many a Coloradan cheering the first play of the game which produced a touchdown by the Broncos on a balloon of a long pass served up by John Elway. Thereafter the Washington Redskins behind quarterback Doug Williams trounced the Broncos and they ended up losing the Super Bowl…again. At the height of this trouncing many of the Colorado folks abandoned the TV room and I found myself as one of the lone Easterners, and as such a Washington Redskin backer, alone in watching the game. Alone with the exception of Eddie Edwards who also happened to be invited to the party. I asked Eddie why he was still hanging in there and he replied that he really had no clue about American football and was trying to glean all he could about the game. With that I took it upon myself to explain as much of the game as I could in order that he might develop some appreciation for the sport. The party ended and I was surprised to hear from Eddie that he was going to Calgary to represent England in the Olympics. I was taken aback but wished him luck knowing his relative inability to jump would cause him to be lost to obscurity. The next time I saw Eddie the Eagle Edwards was as I sat in relative obscurity watching his appearance on the Tonight show with Johnny Carson.
I was coaching the Nordic combined jumpers in 1988 and we were training in Steamboat before heading to Calgary for the Games. Eddie joined us for training. It dumped like crazy the whole time and for whatever reason we deemed packing too stressful for our thoroughbred athletes and so they stayed at home while coaches and hill crew worked the hills. And Eddie. Bless his heart, he was the only athlete out there packing every single day. I have clear memories of side stepping next to Eddie as he did the math figuring that, based on who he had ever beat before (even if they fell), and who they had beat (even if they fell) it was mathematically possible, nay- LIKELY- that he could finish top 10. That was his goal. Because he knew that if he finished top 10 he could get a sponsor and say $50K per year to keep skiing. Well, whether it was the poor training in Steamboat or a reflection of his true ability, Eddie didn’t come close to top 10 or even next to last. He was DFL and in doing so became a far bigger celebrity and made far more money than if he had finished top 10!
BTW- Major motion picture of Eddie’s life is being released this February. No trailer yet but some details- CLICK HERE
Interesting 1988 LA Times article on Eddie- CLICK HERE
If you still have time and boss isn’t watching- here are some interesting videos of Eddie, past and more recent.
|Eddie being greeted by press upon his return to the UK.|