Up above the clouds, one Winter Olympic sport has skiers nervous to the bone. This sport requires athletes to jump off a ramp over 70 meters (230 feet) high and land smoothly as far down the hill below as possible. It is easy to fall, break bones, and even die if one is not well-trained. This sport is ski jumping.
A biopic was recently made about one of the most popular — and one of the most unsuccessful — ski jumpers called “Eddie the Eagle.” Based on a true story, this film is about Eddie Edwards (played by Taron Egerton), the first ski jumper to qualify for Great Britain at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Inspiring, touching, and hilarious, this movie encourages people to not give up on a sport even if they fail miserably at it, but to keep pursuing their passion for the sheer joy of it.
The movie begins with young Edwards’ dream to go to the Olympics. He tries out different sports until he settles on downhill skiing. However, because he is a klutz, the British Olympic officials reject him from the skiing squad. Despite this, Edwards does not give up on his dream and settles on ski jumping instead, though there have not been British ski jumpers for the past 60 years. He begins self-training and heads to a ski jumping camp in Germany where he meets other experienced jumpers.
The film also stars Edwards’ fictional coach, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a former American champion ski jumper fallen from grace and now is a drunk snow groomer. After Edwards attempts the 40-meter (130 ft) jump and falls, Peary advises him to give up. However, after Edwards persistently nags him, he teaches Edwards how to properly land and decides to train him for the Games.
Throughout the process, numerous athletes, the British Olympic Committee, and even Edwards’ own father try to dissuade him from carrying on with ski jumping. They taunt him, saying he is going to die due to his lack of experience. However, Edwards’ strong-willed spirit powers him to keep improving. Eventually, he is able to land 61 meters (200 feet), the minimum requirement to qualify for the Olympics, and his childhood dream comes true.
Although Edwards qualifies, Peary again tries to discourage him from going and wait until the 1992 Olympics to properly train. Edwards refuses, saying his time is now and cannot wait. As a result, Peary does not accompany him to the 1988 Games.
Upon arriving in Calgary, Edwards is hazed by his fellow British teammates. They talk him into taking liquor shots as part of a non-existent ritual. One of the shots is absinthe, a hallucinogenic alcoholic beverage. Because Edwards drinks it, he wakes up in the janitor’s closet and realizes that he has missed the opening ceremony and the parade of nations. Although he is disappointed with his phony friends, Edwards continues to march on.
On the day of the 70-meter jump, Edwards lands 60.5 meters. Even though he finishes last, his jump breaks the British record. Ecstatic at his performance, he cheers and flaps his arms up and down. The crowd, loving his enthusiasm, joins with him. One of the commentators nicknames him “The Eagle.” His performance at the Olympics earns him numerous press conferences and interviews.
Later, Edwards happily phones Peary about his ski jumping result and the media craze. However, Peary does not approve and tells him that he is a one-hit wonder who does not take ski jumping seriously, and that all his attention will fade once the 90-meter (295 feet) jump commences. Motivated by this conversation, Edwards announces at a press conference that he will enter the 90-meter jump, a jump he has never done before, to prove that he is not a novelty act but a serious athlete.
Peary, having watched the conference, is deeply moved and flies to Calgary and supports Edwards. Edwards takes in all the pep talk and training as he rides up to the top of the ski ramp. As he rides up, he talks with a fellow competitor Matti Nykänen, the 70-meter champion. Although Nykänen won the gold medal for that event, he expresses his disappointment that he did not do his best, preferring to finish last and set a personal record instead. During their talk, Nykänen encourages him and tells him that Edwards is going to make history. After Nykänen does his jump, Edwards preps for his own.
Before he takes off, Edwards has a moment of reluctance after hearing in his head his father’s discouraging comments about him never becoming an athlete. This motivates him even more to do the jump. As he lands, he begins to fall on his back. However, he manages to regain his balance, and his jump is valid. He lands 73 meters (240 feet), setting a new British record and a personal best. Despite placing last again, the crowd admires and delightfully cheers him on while chanting “EDDIE THE EAGLE!”
During the closing ceremony, the International Olympic Committee president, Frank King, singles out Edwards in his speech, “At these Games, some competitors have won gold, some have broken records, and some of you have even soared like an eagle.”
On the flight back home, Edwards and Peary cheer to a successful Olympic showing, and they set up training plans for the 1992 Olympics. When they arrive at the airport, flashing cameras and a welcoming crowd surround them. Edwards’ father, who was repeatedly against him from competing, proudly accepts his son as an athlete.
Eddie the Eagle is an ideal film for all ages. It teaches society that one can accomplish dreams by focusing passionately and believing in oneself. No matter what barriers lie in the way or what people say, anyone can do anything if one puts one’s mind to it. While winning is important, one thing that matters even more is feeling proud of one’s own achievements. Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards has all of these qualities, and what people consider a failure turns out to be a huge success. He has the heart of a true Olympian, and his legacy will no doubt live on for decades.
Ski Jumping is Graded On: Style and Distance
What Happened to the Eagle?
Because of his poor performance in 1988, the Olympic Committee instated the “Eddie the Eagle Rule,” which requires ski jumpers to place in the top 30% or top 50, whichever is fewer, in international competitions in order to qualify. As a result, Edwards failed to qualify for the 1992, 1994, and 1998 Olympic Games.