James Woods is Great Britain’s best chance at a skiing Olympic medal in, well… ever. The English slopestyle skier that honed his tricks on dry slope (read: slick carpet) is the first British man to win a ski World Cup overall championship, a World Championships medal (silver), and an X Games medal (bronze). Did we mention he did that all last season? “Woodsy” carries serious momentum into his first Olympics with a chance at history, something that puts him on the BBC’s Athlete’s to Watch list for Sochi.
With all the hype surrounding the high-flying Woods, it’s hard not to think about the last time we were this excited about a British skier. In the 1988 Calgary Games, an affable and thickly bi-focaled Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards showed up and told the world he was going to ski jump. He did just that, smashing the British ski jumping record with a leap of 73.5 meters—but finishing dead last. Still, he was the star of the Games and will forever be a piece of Olympic lore (officials created an Olympic law in his honor).
But while both will both likely go down in Games history, Woodsy has a different level of expectation for his first Olympic go-around, soaring to podium heights “The Eagle”, and much of England, never thought possible. Here’s a look at the two going-for-broke blokes from across the pond.
Eddie: 1988 Ski Jumping (70m and 90m)
Woodsy: 2014 Slopestyle
Eddie: Grabbing headlines as worst jumper (finished last in 1988 Calgary Games)
Woodsy: Mid-air grabs as best jumper in slopestyle
Eddie: Thick glasses that often fogged
Woodsy: Sideshave hair-do (a la Skrillex) with colorful designs
Eddie: After the 1988 Games, the I.O.C. established a rule requiring competitors to be of certain caliber before qualifying for the Games—The Eddie the Eagle Rule.
Best Competitive Finish
Eddie: 1st place Splash! Celebrity Diving Competition; 1st place Winter Wipeout celebrity special.
Woodsy: 2013 World Cup Slopestyle Champion
Home Ski Hill
Eddie: Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre, Gloucester, England (dry slope)
Woodsy: Sheffield Ski Centre, Sheffield, England (dry slope)
Endearing Press Nickname
Eddie: Mr. Magoo
Woodsy: Just plain ol’ Woodsy
Eddie: Britain’s Eagle Airlines
Woodsy: Salomon, Monster, Quiksilver, Ion Camera
Eddie: Has soccer mascot named after him (Colchester United F.C.)
Woodsy: U.S. Forest Service owl icon, famous for motto “Give a hoot — don’t pollute!”