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Meet Lydia Lassila: Reigning Olympic gold medallist for aerial skiing

/ Jan 30, 2014 8:08AM / Print / ()

Lydia Lassila of Australia poses during the Australian Winter Olympics Games press conference at Museum of Contemporary Art in October 2013

In the lead up to the Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Women's Agenda is bringing you exclusive interviews with some of Australia's top female athletes vying for gold. Check out our interview with Mogule Champ Britt Cox.

Lydia Lassila is one of Australia's best gold medal contenders at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. This will be her fourth Winter Olympics and she is going into the Games as the reigning Olympic champion. Lydia came back from heartbreaking injury in Torino to win gold in Vancouver and has already won a gold and silver from the qualifying World Cups events that were held over the past few months. She is looking to be right on form as she prepares to head to Russia in a few days time.

Aerial skiing is an incredible event, involving sky-high gymnastic flips and somersaults whilst wearing skis. Australia has one of the best teams in the world right now.

How are you feeling in the final lead-up to the Games?
I'm happy with where I'm at right now and I'm progressing the way I want to be. I still have some work to do but with a training camp before the Olympics, there is still time to get what I need done.

As the defending gold medallist does that increase the pressure?
No it's a relief to be the defending champion! I know what it's like to yearn for an Olympic Gold Medal and I'm in a much better position now that I have one.

Are you happy with your performances lately?
Yes, I've had some great performances whilst others have been forgettable! But I'm on track and improving, so that's a good place to be in.

In Torino you had an-all time low. Can you tell us about that experience?
It was bad -- blowing your knee in the semi finals of an Olympics after coming back from a knee reconstruction 5 months earlier resulted in total disappointment. I felt short changed but somehow I knew it wasn't career ending and I guess I didn't want it to be. I wanted to come back and give myself another chance of being the best I could be.

What was your emotion then when you rwon in Vancouver? Happy? Relief? Satisfaction?
All of the above. Relief at first - like all the air coming out a bottle the first time you open it. There's so much build up leading into an Olympics. So many things you try to ignore and block out to keep your focus. The feeling of winning overwhelmed me. I knew it was possible and my odds were good, but to actually do it was the best feeling ever.

This is our biggest winter Olympic team to date and is exciting because there are so many medal chances. Do you think Australians are more into winter sports now?

I think so. It's hard to tell though because I'm never really home! I think people are paying more attention now and know that our team is the real deal but we are far from dominating the sports pages! That contest will be a difficult one.

How did you get into aerials?
I was recruited from gymnastics. I had never skied before that and I was 18 at the time.

Who is the athlete to beat?
The Chinese team is strong all over and they will be the ones to beat. In particular Li Nina and Xu Mengtao.

What do you think about when you jump?
Take-offs and landings!

What will you do after this Olympics?
I haven't got there yet and will wait for the feelings to come to me after the Olympics!

What three words sum up your snow-sports discipline?

One. Hard. Head.

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