Most people have a good understanding of skiing, but if you don’t, it is a sport, often recreational, that involves sliding across snow over hills and slopes with the assistance of “skis” – derived from the Norse expression “split piece of wood.” While skiing is a popular practice in its own right, popular derivations of the sport exist across the globe. Among the more popular variations is “ski-jumping” which, as the name suggests, involves an extreme build-up of force to effect a long jump.
Ski-jumping and skiing feature enough differences to be regarded as completely separate sports. Perhaps the most notable discernment between the two is the addition of a “launch ramp.” The launch ramp is a necessary element of ski-jumping, as it provides participants with the means to generate momentum for a jump. Another difference between skiing and ski-jumping is tied to the skis themselves – those used for jumping are specially constructed to be wider and longer than normal skis in the interest of safety. Due to its extreme nature, ski-jumping is almost always presented in a competitive environment.
In contrast to most other sports, the origin of ski-jumping can be traced with surprising accuracy. In the early 1800s, ski-jumping emerged as a demonstration of courage in Eidsberg, Norway. By the mid-1800s, it had been formalized into a modern, competitive sport. Naturally, any sport that involves launching one’s self a great distance and altitude with minimal protection is exhilarating, entertaining, and very dangerous, and safety continues to be a priority and a concern, particularly in the competitive environment.
The “Legend” of Eddie Edwards
Michael Edwards was born in December, 1963. With a natural talent for downhill skiing, Edwards went on to pursue competitive ski-jumping and eventually became the first person to represent Britain in Olympic ski jumping. What makes Edwards’ story so unique is the path he took to his dreams; he was unable to qualify for Britain’s Olympic skiing team, and as a result, decided to take his dream a step further. How? By pursuing jumping instead.
The qualification requirements for ski-jumping would seem to be easier for Edwards, as there was much less competition in his way. However, many other pitfalls would work against him – his poor vision, his weight, and his lack of sponsorship meant that he would literally have to reach for the stars to accomplish his goals.
“Eddie the Eagle’s dream” would be realized, however! In 1987, as the sole participant, he would represent Britain in the World Championships, and his performance there would carve him a path to the 1988 Winter Olympics. In his career, Edwards set records for ski jumping in the United Kingdom and, to this day, his legacy is a symbol of how many things may stand in the way of one’s dream, but with perseverance, nothing can truly stop them!