Saturday, February 20, 2010

Unsteady Eddie

Watching the winter olympics on TV reminds me of the 1988 games in Calgary. Remember Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards. He was a speed skier who took advantage of a loophole to represent Great Britain as a ski jumper. He had no competition in qualifying. The only problem was he was farsighted and afraid of heights. The press called him Mr. Magoo. At 181 lbs, he was twenty pounds heavier than the average ski jumper. Eddie finished dead last in the ski jumping events and subsequent olympic rule changes made it much more difficult for circus acts like Edwards' to qualify for the olympics.

As his character grew, so did the crowd's enthusiasm. Edwards seemed to feed off it and set a Great Britain record for the ski jump at the Calgary games. So what started out as a joke, turned into a great triumph, which is really what the olympics are supposed to represent. After the games, he returned to Great Britain where 10,000 people waited for him at the airport.

Here is some footage of unsteady Eddie as he later became known. Sorry about the foreign audio. I couldn't find anything decent in English:

Remember before cable television when you only had your choice of four channels? ABC's Wide World of Sports had this introduction where the showed this Yugoslavian skier's horrific fall when describing "the agony of defeat." Here it is:

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