It still rankles.
At that point, he stretches his 50-year-old body, mutters to himself: “Come on, focus. Lock and cock, lock and cock”, takes a huge breath and releases himself down the slope.
We are just outside the Tyrolean resort of Innsbruck, where Eddie is a bit of a local legend – his face is plastered on posters all over town. That is because he is appearing in The Jump, a Channel 4 show that mixes celebrities and some of the more lunatic Winter Olympic events.
Over nine consecutive evenings, you can tune in to see genuine stars such as Sir Steve Redgrave, Anthea Turner, comedian Marcus Brigstocke and Eighties pop singer Sinitta, as well as boyband member Ritchie Neville (“What is 5ive?” a perplexed Eddie asks me), reality-TV performer Amy Childs, and presenter Laura Hamilton (no, me neither).
Each day they perform a different winter sport, trained by a former professional. These include giant slalom, speed-skating and skeleton, which involves lying on a tea-tray and hurtling down a toboggan course at 90 miles an hour. The worst two performers from each event – they find out their fate on the live show – then have to ski jump, with the loser being eliminated.
The production team hope it will be an Alpine Splash!, the diving show which Eddie himself won last year with a surprisingly skilful display of gymnastic double somersaults. But it is likely to be part It’s a Knockout, part Casualty, judging by the size of the defibrillator on hand at the bobsleigh track when I visit on a training day.
Henry Conway, a “socialite”, is nursing a broken thumb in a sling fashioned from a Hermès scarf; Darren Gough, the former England cricketer, is hobbling with a bad knee; and two contestants have already dropped out. Sam Jones, who played Flash Gordon, has injured his shoulder, while Tara Palmer-Tomkinson decided “it wasn’t for her” after the first week of training. “She pulled out because I don’t think she is mentally tough enough to deal with it,” says Eddie diplomatically.
Really? Klosters seems to be her home from home, but Eddie is insistent. “Ski jumping is just 10 per cent physical, 90 per cent mental. Some people can’t do that. It’s not just to do with the fear at the top. It takes a lot of guts to go off the top, but it takes 100 times more courage to jump off the end.
“The technique required is scary. You have to dive out headfirst, right out over your skis, and do [the jump] in a split second when you are travelling at 70mph.”
Eddie’s role in all this is to be jump instructor to the celebrities, who will have the option to leap from a 10-metre, 20-metre or 40-metre jump – nicknamed by Anthea Turner “Baby Bear, Mummy Bear and Daddy Bear”. Even the big one is fairly modest compared with the Olympic jumps, which are either 90 metres or 120 metres.
But all of the celebrities are genuinely terrified – with good reason. When I stood at the top of the 40-metre jump with Eddie, it looked like a fast-track to a broken neck. Marcus Brigstocke tells me: “I’ve never been more frightened in my life. You know the moment you sit up from that bar there is nowhere to turn, no way to slow yourself down. And you are jumping off into nothing.”
Brigstocke is a pretty experienced skier, but some of his rivals had never been on a ski slope until last month. Amy Childs, drowning in lipgloss and sporting sunglasses the size of a small ice rink, says that “five weeks ago, I couldn’t stand up [on skis]. I spent the whole time on my bum.”
Still, the 12 of them are having a blast. They have been in Innsbruck since the start of the year, many with their families, trying out a different winter sport every day. At night, they retire to the hotel bar, many of them in the onesies that the production company gave them as a welcome gift – the boys in blue and the girls in pink. Turner looks surprisingly stylish in hers.
Despite the injuries, the greatest concern for the celebs appears to be the threat of helmet hair after finishing the bobsleigh. Never fear – hair stylist Nicky Clarke, the eldest contestant at 55, and with a bouffant the size of the Matterhorn, appears to go nowhere without a sponge bag containing hair gel and spray.
Just before a group of the boys have their picture taken by The Daily Telegraph, Clarke starts to tease Brigstocke’s hair into place. Brigstocke jokes: “Look at me. Leftie eco-bore goes on carbon-heavy celeb jaunt and has his hair done by Nicky Clarke.”
Underneath the jollity, however, there are a handful who are clearly desperate to win. Freed from the trauma of a public vote, they are treating this as a proper sports contest, rather than a test of popularity.
The smart money is on Redgrave, and not just because of his Olympic pedigree. A qualified ski instructor, he was, I discover, briefly a member of the British bobsleigh team in the Eighties, during a period of disillusionment with rowing.
Sir Steve is keen to play this down: “Twenty-five years ago, I was a young, fit man. The reality is, I am now an old, fat knacker struggling to fit into the bob.”
“Steve is really good,” Brigstocke adds. “But he’s also 6ft 4in and 19 stone. He flies like a brick. He’s no good off the jump.”
Turner, meanwhile, is winning respect for her fearlessness. She says: “It’s a crapshoot. Anyone could win, anyone could wipe out.”
Perhaps the biggest winner will be Eddie himself. The show is likely to cement his reputation as one of the more down-to-earth celebrities – when I took him out to supper, he insisted we went to the Innsbruck all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet and says he’d much rather watch Coronation Street than the Winter Olympics (“sport on TV is so boring”).
The show could, he dares to think, relaunch his jumping career. He has had to dust down his skis and suit from the attic, where they have lain untouched for 17 years (there’s even mildew on the outfit). But he points out that Noriaki Kasai, one of the best jumpers in the world, is 41 – only nine years younger than him.
Is he seriously considering a comeback?
“I’d like to think I could, if I was given the right training. I am lighter now than when I went up to Calgary. There’s no reason why I couldn’t.”
It sounds improbable. But no more improbable than what he achieved all those years ago: a plasterer from Stroud representing Britain in the Olympic ski jump competition and becoming a national hero.
'The Jump’ starts tomorrow night at 8pm on Channel 4