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Morning Briefing

The Eagle of Britain Plummets to Glory

February 16, 1988

Eddie (The Eagle) Edwards, also known as Fast Eddie, is a British ski jumper who has become a cult hero at the Winter Olympics.

Eddie doesn't soar, he plummets. He finished 58th and last in the 70-meter event with a jump of 179 feet. The winner went 293 feet.

No matter. The crowd loved him.

"It was one of the most glorious defeats in Olympic history," wrote Paul Radford of Reuters.

"He's a national treasure," said a British spectator. "There's no one else in England mad enough to do this."

Edwards' parents flew from Britain to watch their son, a 24-year-old plasterer who has been jumping for only two years.

"I thought about waving to them while I was on the jump," he said, "but I was too busy trying to stand up to do it."

Add Edwards: His ambition is to become a stuntman, and he said a car manufacturer asked him to take a four-wheel drive vehicle up the 90-meter jump at Calgary.

"They wanted to show off how good their four-wheel drive is," he said. "But I said why not turn it round and I'll drive it off the jump to show what a beautiful suspension it has. I'm here if they need me."

More Edwards: He admitted to spending time in a Finnish mental hospital while he pursued training, but only because it was so cheap.

"It only cost a pound a night," he said. "I didn't get much sleep, though. I was worried about someone coming to my door with an ax."

Would-you-believe-it dept.: A reader called The Times and asked, "What do the five rings on the Olympic flag stand for?"

"The five continents," she was told.

"Which five continents?" she said.

Trivia Time: In what event and for what country is Albert Grimaldi competing in the Winter Olympics? (Answer below.)

Wallace Matthews of Newsday jokingly suggested last week that Donald Trump probably bought massive copies of his book, "The Art of the Deal," so he could head the best-seller list.

Matthews: "Well, surprise, surprise. According to a former Trump employee, Sir Donald bought thousands of copies, destined for the discount racks, at half-price, and stored them in a warehouse.

"At Trump's Atlantic City hotels, the gift shop shelves runneth over with the tome, and in an attempt to move some of the cargo, the author is running a contest whereby the Trump publicist who comes up with the most effective marketing strategy wins a trip to some exotic locale.

"In Trump's world, if you can't write your way onto the best-seller list, you can always buy your way on. The funniest thing about the whole bizarre incident is that Bill Cayton, co-manager of Mike Tyson, has taken to mentioning how Trump's book sales prove that he is, among other things, 'a great writer.' "

The dilemma of picking among Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson as basketball's all-time guards, as posed in Scott Ostler's story Sunday, was easily solved by John Wooden when asked to pick his all-time team.

Wooden had West and Robertson at guards. He had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center, and at forward, he moved Magic up to go with Larry Bird.

Trivia Answer: He is competing in bobsled for Monaco, where he is known as Prince Albert.

Quotebook

Lee Trevino, to a woman who saw him washing the windows at his home and asked him how much he charged: "Lady, the woman in this house lets me sleep with her."

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