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With “Adler Eddie” in New York

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From: Thomas Ernstberger

Encounter with a star from bygone days: KREISBOTEN sports columnist Thomas Ernstberger and Michael Edwards (left), better known as “Eddy the Eagle”, in New York. © Ernstberger

The New Year’s jump is a must for me. Even as a child, I sat in front of the TV on January 1st on my winter vacation, and shared the excitement with the ski jumpers in Garmisch. My heroes in the late 1960s were the Norwegian double world champion Björn Wirkola and the Czechoslovak Olympic champion Jirí Raška, and I also liked the Swiss “bird man” Walter Steiner. Later, at the end of the 80s, I had to laugh at the “worst jumper in the world” – even if I deeply admired him for his courage.

Little did I know then that I would get to know Eddie Edwards, the short-sighted Englishman who made headlines as “Eddie the Eagle” and even took part in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary for Great Britain, personally and through the “Big Apple” with him “Should pull.

It was the winter of 1995. Shortly before Christmas, the Austrian construction lion “Mörtel” Lugner chartered a plane to New York, packed it full of well-known, mostly former ski athletes, a few Austrian celebrities and a handful of journalists. A completely crazy action! The destination was New York. And the purpose of the trip: Advertising for the Ski Flying World Championships 1996 at the “Kulm” in Styria. Incredible, but true: That’s why a ski jumping competition was held at the foot of the World Trade Center. Arrival and departure from the hotel in Times Square to the ski jump: In full gear with ski boots and skis in the subway. I will never forget the incredulous looks of the “normal” New York passengers when I was there with Michael Veith, Jochen Danneberg, Franz Klammer and this “eagle” Eddie.

We had a lot of fun together in New York for a few days. Eddie, whose real name is Michael, was a funny, humorous conversation partner who had zero star attitudes, although everyone knew him who had anything to do with ski jumping. Eddie’s life was even filmed in 2016. “Eddie the Eagle – Everything is possible” is the title of the strip about the trained bricklayer who always dreamed of becoming a ski jumper. And this dream came true. His personal best of 71.5 meters in Calgary was a British Olympic record.

After our trip to New York together, we talked a few more times on the phone. My colleague Kristina, the ski jumping expert, gave me greetings after an interview with Edwards a few years ago. Then unfortunately the contact broke off.

So many nice memories – I think I’ll call Eddie again soon …

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