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Ski jumping needs more 'characters' like Eddie the Eagle

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Where's Eddie the Eagle when you need him?


The ski jumping event at the Pyeongchang Olympics could use a little buzz.


Small crowds have the been the norm at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Center though the first week of competition.


Granted, it was brutally cold for the men's and women's normal hill finals and bigger crowds are anticipated for Saturday's large hill event.


The fact that the sport is not big in South Korea doesn't help lure crowds. There is no ski jumping tradition here like there is in Germany, Norway or even Japan.


Another drawback for the locals is the timing -- the ski jumping finals are held late at night in Pyeongchang in order to suit European TV audiences.


Michael Edwards, the British ski jumper who shot to fame at the Calgary Olympics in 1988, says its unlikely the sport will see a repeat of his kind of performance anytime soon.


"I dont think there will be any real characters in the Olympics now, the IOC has pretty much killed it off ... it's a shame for sport and the Olympics," Edwards told The Associated Press in an email.


When Edwards jumped in Calgary he brought a new spirit to the tradition-bound sport.


"I think that's one of the reasons I became so popular in ski jumping," Edwards said. "I was very different to the other jumpers, but yes, something needs to be done to make it more hip."

In Calgary, Edwards became the first competitor since 1928 to represent Britain in Olympic ski jumping.


It was his up-beat attitude despite a lack of success that endeared him to people around the world. 


The widespread attention he received in Calgary didn't sit well with some in the ski jumping fraternity. In 1990, the entry requirements were strengthened in order to make it harder for anyone to follow his example: the IOC instituted what became known as the "Eddie the Eagle Rule," a qualifying criteria which requires Olympic hopefuls to compete in international events and be placed in the top 30 percent or the top 50 competitors

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