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Edelweiss resort in Bavaria portrays Calgary Olympic headquarters in ‘Eddie the Eagle’

Edelweiss staff member Barry Main, sporting a 1980s-style ski outfit, stands outside Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Barry portrayed an Olympic usher in the movie "Eddie the Eagle," which used the resort, owned by the Department of Defense, to portray the 1989 Calgary Olympic headquarters.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAD HAYS/EDELWEISS LODGE AND RESORT

By JOLENE CARPENTER | Stars and Stripes | Published: February 25, 2016

In March 2015, a funny thing happened to the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, an Armed Forces Recreation Center at the foot of the Zugspitze mountain in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The hotel and its grounds suddenly transformed into a 1980s Olympic ski lodge in Canada.

Germany’s largest film studio, Babelsberg, used Edelweiss to portray the 1988 Winter Olympic headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, where British ski jumper Michael “Eddie” Edwards began his underdog Olympic journey depicted in “Eddie the Eagle.”

In one day, the company shot seven scenes at the resort.

To make the transformation, the filmmakers had to work some movie magic. Hundreds of extras — including 75 Edelweiss employees ranging from housekeepers to desk clerks to ski instructors — donned 1980s outfits to portray Olympic ski teams, fans, security guards and judges. Decades-old buses and vans rolled in, and the film crew hauled in retro luggage, skis and Olympic emblems and flags. At least 25 trucks swarmed the Edelweiss grounds with film equipment.

The main modification to the resort involved replacing a large sled above the main lobby fireplace with Olympic Rings, which also were hung above the hotel’s front desk. Filmmakers also rigged up a giant lighting blimp in the main lobby and covered all telltale 21st-century gadgets, such as ATMs and flat television screens, with Olympic props.

“Walking into the Edelweiss Resort with all the lights, cameras, trucks and people walking around in ’80s outfits made you feel like you might have just taken a trip in a time machine,” said Brad Hays, marketing manager for Edelweiss. “Some of our guests who showed up to check in actually ended up being taken to the dressing room and put in ski outfits to be extras in the movie. It’s a pretty fun addition to your vacation to be included in a big-budget film.”

Nearby, some Edelweiss staff, who are Department of Defense employees, portrayed skiers at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen ski jump, where the movie’s megastar, Hugh Jackman, filmed scenes as Bronson Peary, the rebellious and charismatic ski coach who helped Edwards achieve his dream of competing in the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Hays said the locals were delighted to share the snowy Bavarian location with Jackman and found him “extremely approachable.”

Meanwhile, Taron Egerton, who plays Edwards in the film, was all business during the day of shooting, opting to stay in his dressing room between breaks in the filming.

Hays said the most amazing thing about having Edelweiss turned into a movie set was seeing just how much coordination, personnel and equipment were needed to create a few seconds of film.

“There are dedicated staff for every role and it is all extremely well-choreographed,” he said. “There is a stand-in actor that just sits in place where the main actor will be so the director of photography can focus with the camera. There is one staff member responsible for just the camera lens, one staff member to push the dolly the camera sits on — and on and on.”

Now that the movie has hit AAFES theaters, you can bet that plenty of American Edelweiss employees are packing the seats. Hays hopes U.S. military members will “enjoy seeing their cherished mountain resort on the big screen” and perhaps book their own Edelweiss vacation.

“You can’t re-create the magic of Edelweiss Resort in a film studio,” he said. “It’s a unique and special place that everyone should experience while stationed in Europe.”

carpenter.jolene@stripes.com

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