Next week she will become the first Australian woman to compete at five Winter Olympics, but she has her eye on a bigger slice of history, becoming the first Australian to win three Winter Games medals.
The 36-year-old aerial skier, and mother of two young boys, will bid farewell to the Olympics after 17 years and is determined to go out with the same competitive* fire that she began with as a teenager in 2002.
“(Going to five Olympics) is a pretty massive feat* after so many years dedicated to something I have really enjoyed doing and it’s a nice closure, but I think historical moments are about performance,’’ Lassila said. “If I come away with a medal, that would be more fulfilling* for me.’’
Lassila is one of the 51 Australians competing at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea from this Friday (February 9). Australia will contest events in alpine skiing, bobsleigh, cross country skiing, figure skating, freestyle skiing, luge, short track speed skating, skeleton, snowboard and speed skating.
And while many Australian competitors will be bundles of nerves, Lassila is no stranger to success on the Winter Olympics stage.
She won gold in Vancouver in 2010 and bronze in Sochi in 2014 and is one of five Australians who have won two winter medals.
She found her form in the final two World Cup meets before the Olympics, at Lake Placid in the US last month, where she won the first with an almost perfect triple-twisting double somersault and finished second the next day while suffering from food poisoning.
But Lassila has something special up her sleeve for Pyeongchang. She wants to master a quadruple-twisting double somersault, a trick that will give her the degree of difficulty to compete with the younger women doing triple somersaults.
“I just have to add another twist,’’ she said. “I’ve done it on water but not on snow and if I can nail that jump, that will put me in a good position to win a medal.’’
SEE BELOW the trailer for a documentary on Lassila’s skiing life.
And you can tell Lassila is serious. She turned down the chance to be the flag-bearer* for the Australian team at Friday’s opening ceremony, which is considered a huge honour.
“I value performance and not extra-curricular items,’’ Lassila said. “While it is an honour to be asked to carry the flag, it is equally important to me to wear the Australian uniform while competing, and even better to have a great performance. The honour for me lies in the field, on the jump site.’’
FAST FACTS ABOUT LASSILA
Favourite Food: Anything Asian
Favourite Music: Rock, Indie
Favourite other sport to watch or play : Love watching track and field, diving, gymnastics and anything snow related
Heroes: Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and many legends of the past like gymnast Nadia Comaneci and boxer Muhammad Ali.
THREE THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT LYDIA LASSILA
1. She was a gymnast for nine years before being recruited at 18 years of age to try aerial skiing.
2. After suffering three major knee injuries, she founded BodyICE, a company that makes ice and heat packs.
3. Lassila carried the Australian flag at the closing ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics
competitive: wanting to win or be more successful than other people
feat: an achievement that requires great courage, skill, or strength
fulfilling: making someone satisfied or happy
flag-bearer: one who carries a flag, especially at a ceremony
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
1. Imagine you are the TV or radio commentator commentating on Lydia’s event – aerial skiing.
Read or listen to the article carefully to find out as much as you can about Lydia. Dot point the most important aspects of her profile. Use this information to help you write a script for you to introduce her as the next athlete in the aerial skiing. Try to keep your commentary to 1 minute. Practice reading your script out loud. Use a stop watch or timer to ensure your script doesn’t go too long.
You could begin your introduction along the same lines as this… ‘Welcome back to live coverage of the aerial skiing at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The first athlete competing today is an Australian skier by the name of ….’ This is just an example, feel free to write your own, make it interesting to the audience – some may not have seen aerial skiing before.
Extension: Practise reading your script, using expression and energy to create interest. When you are happy with your performance, present it to your classmates.
Time: Allow 30 minutes.
Curriculum links: English, The Arts – Drama
2. Using the letters of Lydia Lassila’s name at the beginning of each line, write an acrostic poem about her.
Make sure each line is about Lydia and/or her sporting success. Try to write it so it reads as a sentence.
L – Lydia Lassila, the aerial skier.
Y – Yearning for gold with her,
D – Double somersault with quadriple twist. etc
Extension: Lydia has competed at five Winter Olympics. In which cities and years were they held? Where and when are the next Winter Olympics being held? Some are mentioned in the article, others you may need to research. Use an Atlas or the internet to locate and mark these on a World Map.
Notice that all these Winter Olympics have been held in the northern hemisphere. Why do you think this is? Why has Australia not hosted the Winter Olympic Games before? Do you think we ever will?
Time: Allow 60 minutes.
Curriculum links: English, Humanities – Geography
Extra Resources: Timer/ Stopwatch, World map, Atlas, access to the Internet.
IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT TODAY’S STORY
Tell us your thoughts on the story using your best spelling, punctuation and grammar. We will publish the best comments.