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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 17:36 GMT
Eddie the Eagle backs ski plans
Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards
Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards hit the headlines in 1988
Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards has backed plans to build what has been called Britain's first permanent ski jump on the outskirts of Wrexham.

The ski jumper became a household name when he famously came last at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988.

On Tuesday, Edwards added his voice to calls for a 6.5m ski centre to be erected near the village of Gresford.

The Nike Group hope to start work on the arena, with three ski jumps, three ski runs and a sports centre in 2006.

It would be great to have a ski jump in Britain full stop
Eddie Edwards

Planning permission to turn a spoil tip on the site of the former Gresford Colliery into the ski arena already exists. However, it expires in five months and the company decided it would be "prudent" to seek renewal of the licence from Wrexham Council.

The plans are expected to be discussed in the new year.

Eddie Edwards, now 42 and working as a builder in Stroud, Gloucestershire, welcomed the development.

"It would be great to have a ski jump in Britain full stop," he said.

"It will help to get this sport off the ground and I'm really glad somebody is thinking about it."

The largest of the three jumps will be 55 metres long but Eddie - who still set a British record in 1988 - is more used to a 90 metre run.

Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards
Edwards now works as a builder in Gloucester

"To be honest, it could be risky for me because I wouldn't get enough speed. I'm used to travelling at up to 70 miles per hour down the jump."

However, he said the scheme could help produce the Olympic class skiers of the future.

"It's a fantastic sport and psychologically very difficult. I'm sure Britain could produce some excellent ski jumpers."

Consultants have been brought in to remove a colony of Great Crested Newts from the Gresford site to another location.

Tree clearing work will begin early next year and the company hopes construction will be completed by 2008.

The largest of the three ski jumps will involve construction of a tower over 100ft high.

Brave ski jumpers will shoot down a Finnish-designed run made of porcelain or stainless steel, covered by flowing water, until they speed up and reach the lip of the jump.

The Wales Tourist Board has approved a 600,000 grant to support the development, which has been planned for 10 years.

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