Eddie the Eagle
“From the moment I put skis on, I’m having fun – every time I put skis on I’m happy!”
Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards is a legend within the world of ski. The first ski jumper to represent Britain since 1929 – jumping at the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics – Eddie’s inspirational journey from underdog to eagle captured the hearts of millions and has recently been translated to the big screen. It’s not every day that you get the chance to speak to an Olympian as famous as Eddie, so we ourselves ‘jumped’ at the chance to ask him a few questions about the sport that inspired him to soar like an eagle…
When and where did you first hit the slopes?
Eddie: The very first time was at Gloucester ski centre when I was only 13 years old – that would have been 1976! I remember it well, it was 7pm on a Wednesday night that I put on a pair of skis for the first time.
Why did you fall in love with snowsports?
Eddie: I think because it was such an unusual sport – I mean, I’d done many sports previously like football, cricket, rugby, and athletics, but skiing is really something different. I used to always watch Ski Sunday on a Sunday afternoon and when I got the opportunity to go on a school ski trip, I just jumped at the chance. So, I was quite excited to do it, but when I eventually started skiing, that was it! Skiing is an individual sport so I could be as good as I wanted to be, it was entirely up to me; I could go as fast as I liked, I could do jumps, I could do turns, I could do pretty much anything I liked and that, to me, was very exciting. That said, I’m just as excited on a pair of skis now than when I started almost 39 years ago!
Tell us about your best or funniest snowsports memory?
Eddie: My best was competing at the Olympics in Calgary; and then during the world championships in 1987; and jumping 119 ½ metres (which is my longest jump) – that was absolutely amazing. My funniest moment would be difficult to say because, from the moment I put skis on, I’m having fun – every time I put skis on I’m happy!
What’s your favourite resort and why? We bet you’ll say somewhere like Calgary!
Eddie: No, not necessarily. I don’t really have a favourite resort as such, I’m just as happy skiing at Gloucester ski centre as I am skiing at Whistler Blackcomb, or Calgary, or Courchevel or anywhere else. It’s difficult to answer because if I’ve got skis on then I’m happy. I don’t really have a particular favourite – it’s like asking somebody what’s the hardest run they’ve ever skied on, it’s hard to assess; you can go down one run and it’s really steep and narrow, a week later you can go down and it’s sheet ice and very dangerous – a completely different run! So, it’s difficult to really think of a favourite resort – Saalbach I liked – I liked the resort, I liked the hotel, I liked the spa. I like Whistler in Canada, I like Steamboat Springs, or even Italy – where I worked for 2 years.
Is there somewhere you’ve always wanted to ride, but haven’t made it yet?
Eddie: The Himalayas! I’d also like to ski in Turkey or Japan – I’ve jumped in Japan but haven’t skied there. I’ve never skied in China, so I’d like to go there too. I managed to see a ski slope in Kazakhstan but never skied it so I’d like to ski there. I want to go and ski in the more unusual places rather than any of the regular resorts. Rather than having any particular runs, I’d just rather go to an unusual country and ski.
Do you have any top tips you’d like to share?
Eddie: My best tip? Don’t eat yellow snow! Apart from that, be as fit as you can – the fitter you are, the better you’ll ski! And always ski within your ability. Also, try and ski with somebody, and if she’s good looking then even better!
How has snow sports changed your life?
Eddie: It changed my life totally. From the moment I started skiing I knew that this was the sport for me. At that point I didn’t realise that it was going to become a career but I always knew that I would be skiing forever and I’m sure I’ll be skiing on my 100th birthday. But being lucky enough to actually make it a career as well as a hobby – I am the luckiest man in the world.