Eddie the Eagle returns to Calgary, site of Olympic dream fulfilled
Slightly more than 29 years since the 'British ski jumper that could' made his Olympic debut on the world stage, Michael ‘Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards returned to the spot, strapped on his skis and acknowledged the crowd at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.
“It’s always nice to come back to Calgary. It’s where I was born,” laughed Edwards. “It’s where I became Eddie the Eagle.”
Edwards, the darling of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, gained a following after overcoming nearly insurmountable obstacles, including access to snow, jumps and proper training, to secure his spot as Great Britain’s first Olympic ski jumper. The Eagle competed, to the best of his abilities, against the best ski jumpers in the world but his successes were rooted in resiliency and did not resonate on the podium.
Few outside of the ski jumping world recall the names of the 1998 ski jumping Olympic medallists but the man who finished in last place in his events (and by a healthy margin) had his story of perseverance transformed into a feature studio film.
“Now that the movie has been out, last year, I’ve got a whole new younger audience who can now look at the story about what happened with Eddie the Eagle at the Calgary Olympics,“ said the 53-year-old Edwards. “It 's lovely to have new fans.”
Hundreds of fans of The Eagle braved the cool conditions and gathered around the ski jumps on Sunday to watch the self-described ‘Ultimate Underdog’ take to the sky as part of an appearance with the members of the Altius Nordic Ski Club, a local group for children.
The gathered supporters at Canada Olympic Park included a number of families as well as some individuals who were fortunate enough to have witnessed Edwards’ jumps in person in 1988. The Eagle’s first appearance on Sunday drew chants of ‘Eddie’.
Amongst the crowd was six-year-old Logan Avey who has aspirations of becoming a ski jumper. Angela Avey, Logan’s mother, says her son has watched the Eddie the Eagle movie countless times and can recite the dialogue from memory.
On Sunday, Logan seized the chance to meet his idol and presented Edwards with a drawing he made of his favourite ski jumper.
“That’s brilliant,” exclaimed Edwards after seeing Logan’s drawing. “The Olympic rings and everything. I’ll have to hang that on my wall at home.”
For the members of the amateur Altius Nordic Ski Club, who range in age from eight to 13 years old, the opportunity to meet Edwards and ski jump in front of a crowd of spectators was exhilarating.
“It’s pretty cool because he’s a big inspiration for all of us,” said 11-year-old James Tourigny. “He has such a good attitude towards the sport.”
Sunday’s appearance was Edwards first visit to Calgary since 2008 when he attended the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Olympic games.
With files from CTV's Kevin Fleming