Eagle climbs, skates and curls

Oddball Oly hero to carry torch

By JASON HALSTEAD, QMI AGENCY

He may not fly so well, but this eagle can climb.

Eddie (The Eagle) Edwards, the unlikely Olympic hero who ski-jumped to last place and eccentric fame at the Calgary Games in 1988, attempted to scale the St. Boniface chapter of the Alpine Club of Canada's ice tower at Whittier Park yesterday.

He is in the city to act as an international torchbearer on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay's final leg in the city today.

It was the first time The Eagle tried ice climbing and he admitted he was a little afraid as he geared up.

"But fear's a good thing," said Edwards, who last ski-jumped about five years ago.

He made it about half way up the 25-metre high tower yesterday afternoon in a stiff wind and blowing snow.

Yesterday, Edwards also went for a skate at The Forks and gave curling a shot at the Granite Curling Club, but said the ice climbing was his favourite of the three.

"It was brilliant," Edwards said. "This has been the most exciting and the physically hardest of the three."

Edwards was the first United Kingdom citizen to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games in ski jumping. His unlikely road to the Games -- including training with oversized, borrowed equipment, his poor eyesight and lack of funding -- endeared him to many and made him a cult hero.

He was thrilled to be involved with the Olympics again.

"It's an honour to be asked back to Canada and to take part in the Olympic torch relay," Edwards said.

Edwards will carry the flame second today when the final leg of the torch relay in Winnipeg begins at 8 a.m. at Minto Armouries.

jason.halstead@sunmedia.ca

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