From his rooftop perch atop an office building near London, Eddie (the Eagle) Edwards peers straight down to the ground, 200 feet away, where a crowd of maybe 100 gawks at the onetime Olympic ski jumper. Abetted by ropes and a harness, Edwards hoists himself into position, perpendicular to the ground. Dumbly, differently, dangerously, he then rappels down the side of the building, bumping and thumping all the way. The Eagle has successfully landed yet another promotional stunt.
The Eagle's legend continues to soar across the British Isles—or at least glide haphazardly, not unlike he did competing in Calgary in '88. Of the 58 skiers in the 70-meter jump, he just missed being 59th. Short on talent but long on chutzpah, he won the enmity of his fellow skiers but the hearts of viewers worldwide. After Calgary, Edwards didn't do badly. There was an appearance on The Tonight Show, a huge nonvictory parade in his hometown of Cheltenham, sponsorship deals with Disney and Eagle Airlines, a hit pop single in Finland. Then came the groupies and the tabloid headlines ("Eddie and Me Did It 16 Times a Night"), while the money—more than $1 million—came and went.
The Eagle is 36 now, but still hasn't left the nest—he shares a modest, debris-filled duplex in Cheltenham, England, with his mum, dad and granny. He now wears studious specs, and his great slope of a chin has been bobbed by a plastic surgeon. ( London's Daily Mail wrote that Edwards "has had more plastic surgery than a Nazi war criminal.") Edwards makes about 300 appearances a year, the majority only for carfare. He muses about competing at the 2002 Games but isn't sure he can get sponsorship to pay for his training. Besides, there are all those office buildings to ski down and all those shopping centers to open. "It's sad to think that in five years I'll still be talking about what happened in Calgary almost 20 years ago," he says. "I don't want to live in the past. On the other hand, I can't say no to offers, not when I'm getting paid to be Eddie the Eagle."