DATELINE – 1988, Calgary, Canada. That's where the dream came true for Eddie the Eagle.
Born of the same drive as the Jamaican Bob Sled Team, Eddie persevered and did what he was told was impossible — becoming an Olympic Athlete. But I'm going to let the movie tell you the story; I, however, can't wait to see it.
See, I'm all about the underdog. Those that aren't able to do it, or rather shouldn't be able to do it and by chance and maybe a bit of luck they get it done. But let's face it, we all root for the underdog. Rudy Ruettiger, of Notre Dame fame, the kid that loved the school and its team so much that he would do anything just to suit up. So when he played, he won. History is filled with teams and individuals that shouldn't have won but did. The 1969 Miracle Mets, the 2001 version of Tom Brady (when all of you merely hoped that Bledsoe was gonna snap out of it). How about Buster Douglas beating the unbeatable Mike Tyson or the 2007 New York Giants who backed their way into the playoffs and had no business winning a single game but managed to derail an undefeated season?
We might as well close with the biggest underdogs of all time, and it was the 1980 US Hockey team — the Miracle on Ice. Now, where as all of those aforementioned teams mostly won, it's the spirit that I highlight. That ability to say "nothing will stop me" and "I will do this." That's the gut check that all of these people and teams had to have in order to, well ... have the inspirational movie made about their lives.
In 1996, after watching him jump several times and reading numerous stories about him in the press, I had the unique chance to meet Eddie the Eagle right here at our very own Harris Hill Ski Jump. It was strictly by chance that I was able to have a quick conversation with him after bumping into him as he arrived at the hill. He was pleasant, humble, and certainly didn't fit the mold of the other ski jumpers that were there that day, or that have come through since. But one thing is for certain, his heart and determination is what put him in the forefront of our minds and hearts. The improbable story that comes with him draws us to him.
Vladimir Glyvka, a staple at Harris Hill, was throwing himself off that hill like crazy. This guy was the stereotypical ski jumper; he walked it, looked it and won it. So when Eddie jumped it was noticeable how different he was from the rest of the field. But keep in mind at this point he was in his 30s and taking a victory lap. But that didn't keep the crowd that day from going wild for him — and perhaps I may have been the loudest.
Needless to say, February is going to be a great month for me. First that rat in Punxsutawney finally predicted an early spring (don't think that it escapes me that this past weekend's arctic blast was Mother Nature's way of setting a rat trap). Second, the movie "Eddie the Eagle" is coming out! Third, the Harris Hill Ski Jump is this coming weekend. I love, love, love this event. It's exciting, the action is unbelievable, the music is great and there's a beer tent — what more do you need? Well, if we could get Eddie to swing by the booth as I call out names and crack jokes — that would be awesome.
The Harris Hill Ski Jump is rich in history dating back to its first jump in 1922, the rebuild that started in 2006 to last year being the coldest day on record. This is an exciting event and the best part is — it's in our own backyard, right there on Cedar Street. So come out and check it out and while you're there swing by and say hello to me, I'll be the guy screaming to make some noise! What the hell is up with that?