Interview with Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards

Former Olympic ski jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards talks about his time on the French ski slopes and his love of France

I first skied in France, at Tignes, when I was 19 and training for the British Championships and the European Cup. I was there both in summer and in winter: there’s still the glacier in summer because it’s so high up.

France is a great place to ski, and I got the chance to go back last year. A British guy in Courchevel was arranging for a group of people to learn to ski jump to raise money for Ski 4 Cancer; he asked if I’d go and help. He did stress that all participants needed to be competent skiers – but we ended up with very mixed abilities! One lady hadn’t skied for 30 years; one was a ski instructor; and another guy claimed he was extremely good… but turned out not to be!

It can be quite nerve-racking, teaching people to ski jump. I can assess their physical skills but I can’t control their mental ability. A 25-metre jump doesn’t sound big but they’re still quite high up. If they’re scared as they start to pick up speed, the most common reaction is to sit back, which is the worst thing you can do. My lot had a few falls but no breaks: hurt pride, mostly.

While I was there, I managed to get back onto the 90-metre, which was good fun: I hadn’t ski jumped for 20 years. The equipment has changed slightly, and I was still jumping with the old technique – I felt safer that way – but it started to feel pretty good.

I love France: it’s not far to travel; I love the accent (although in Courchevel, you’re better off speaking Russian!). But the food? I go to McDonald’s. The French enjoy taking three hours over lunch, whereas I’d rather be out there skiing.

Like this? You might also enjoy:

Interview with Chris Froome

Interview with James Cracknell

Interview with Sir Ranulph Fiennes