"Eddie The Eagle": Tale of provincial English plasterer

"Eddie The Eagle": Tale of provincial English plastererI was 14 years old, and the Olympics in Calgary were the first which I watched more or less consciously.

In Calgary USSR squad won the first team place. At those competitions our sportsmen won medals in different kinds of sport: in biathlon, bobsleigh, speed skating, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, luge, figure skating and ice hockey. Of all the sportive events my memory preserved - even to this day - the amazing victory of the USSR team in hockey tournament. It was amazing because, thanks to the strange scoring system, our team became the Olympic champion, even after having lost to the Finns in the last match.

But for those who have more or less serious attitude to the sport, and consider it fun (even if serious) the most amazing performances in Calgary were the races on beans of the merry boys from Jamaica and the English epic with the ski jumper Michael Edwards.

And if funny and touching story with amazing Jamaicans has found its place in the movie "Cool Runnings" (1993), (I highly recommend to watch the film to those who missed it), Edwards was less fortunate. He had been waiting for his stellar cinema hour up to 2016. And I have no doubts about the fact that it is really the star moment.
"Eddie The Eagle": Tale of provincial English plasterer

Here it is - on the screens of the country - the film "Eddie The Eagle" based on the real events from the life of ordinary plasterer from the English heartland, who decided to achieve something bigger than his father in life (his father was a plasterer, whose biggest dream in life was to become a plasterer).

Michael’s dream was out of common run. It was the desire to jump on the ski jumping. And not just jump, but to defend the honor of the national team of Great Britain at the Olympics.

Little time was left for realization of this dream (less than two years to Calgary Olympics), the lack of money was pressing (Michael had to wear several pairs of socks, because his second hand ski boots were of the wrong size), and what was the most important – he simply lacked the ability to do ski jumping (before that he did only cross-country skiing).

Add to the abovementioned the snobbish attitude of British sports officials, skepticism of all people around him - starting with his father and ending by Matti Nyukanen (the best ski jumper in the history) - and you will get a vivid portrait of the village idiot or urban madman.

The key word in the previous sentence is the word "vivid". Because Michael managed to make himself a bespectacled man, a loser, a fool, really bright, vivid and - as they say - a media person, who was at first the object of jokes, and then the idol for admiration.

He broke through to the Olympics through the 1987 World Cup, which took place in Oberstdorf. There he took the last, the 58th place among the 58 participants, but British officials were forced to suppress a snobbery because his personal best jump distance - 73.5 meters was the national record. So Michael went to Calgary. Well, all the same, he took the same the last place at the competition.

He had already been referred to only as Eddie the Eagle. Because he did not fly, he hovered. But it was impossible to watch without horror the soaring of the "heroic loser" (as he was called). And it gave you the shivers down your spine to watch his landing as well. By the way, it was not always successful. I do not need to say you how many injuries incompatible with sports were on Eddie’s craggy path to the top.

By the way, he was going to participate at the next Olympics as well. But a year after the Calgary competition, in Innsbruck, Edwards crashed and broke his collarbone. And only for this good reason, he failed to pass the qualification for the next Olympics.

Well, the film is about the spirit. Not so much about the sport spirit, but about the human spirit. A sort of "Survivor." And the big question is, who was in the most difficult situation: tragic Hugh Glass in a snowy wilderness or comedic myopic Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards at the 90-meters’ springboard ...

Konstantin Nikolaev

Translated by Maria Kryzhanovska

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