FORMER Olympic ski jump hero Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards is planning to build a ski jump in the UK to inspire a new generation of athletes.

Mr Edwards — who was catapulted to fame during the 1988 Calgary winter Olympics, where he charmed the nation with his jam jar glasses, borrowed skis and boundless enthusiasm – is part of a consortium looking to install the UK’s first jump, he told The Northern Echo.

Speaking ahead of a theatre appearance in Darlington, where he will tell his life story, he said: “We are looking at sites for the first UK ski jump at the moment.

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“We are looking at sites all over the country. It has to be just right, it has to be sheltered, because the wind affects jumping.

“It won’t be for another five or ten years but it will be a plastic jump, which is actually more forgiving if you fall.”

He welcomed the numerous new indoor ski centres being built around the country – including one planned for Middlesbrough – and said: “The problem is that skiing is a rich man’s sport. I managed to learn because I worked at Gloucester ski centre on the ski hire. I would do that for a couple of hours and then I would ski for 12 hours.

“I went abroad on a couple of ski trips that I managed to save up for and then worked as a ski mechanic out there, and it went from there.”

He said the film about himself, starring Hugh Jackman as his coach, was “about 75 per cent true”, but said he actually had about 20 coaches.

And he admitted one or two of the other competitors were hostile towards him because they didn’t like the fact that the ski jumper who was coming in last place was getting all the media attention.

Mr Edwards’ theatre show, Try Hard, comes to Darlington’s Dolphin Centre on June 13 and tells the story of him teaching himself to ski jump, being shunned by the sporting establishment, and the extensive surgery to rebuild his face and body following some “spectacular” crashes on the snow as he set out to break world records in stunt jumping (ten cars and six buses) and speed skiing.

He was also declared bankrupt after putting his Calgary earnings in a trust fund which was then mismanaged; trained as a lawyer, and became an unlikely pop star in Finland.

He said he had been busier with speeches and other engagements since the film was released, but in quieter times he has fallen back on his trades of plastering and building to supplement his income.

However he still jumps, occasionally, and even tackled two 70m jumps in Calgary earlier this year, to the delight of crowds there.

*Eddie the Eagle presents his Try Hard show on Tuesday, June 8 in the Dolphin Centre, Darlington. Phone 01325-486555 or visit www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk

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