Watching Lydia Lassila gracefully execute one of her aerial jumps in which she leaps and summersaults on skis before landing on the snow beneath, is like watching the impossible. But nothing has seemed impossible to this highly motivated former gymnast, who sets her heights beyond anything that has been previously achieved. Her goal as a young girl is to compete at the Olympics but once achieved, she wants more – to leave a legacy and push the boundaries of the sport. The Will To Fly takes us into a whole different world in which there are high risks and big rewards without a safety net. This limitless marriage of acrobatics and ski jump is beautiful to watch – and Lydia’s story is involving and inspiring.
Archival footage combined with fascinating interviews with coaches, colleagues and family bring a rounded picture of a young woman whose ambitions fly higher than Olympic gold. Leo Baker and Katie Bender have made a fascinating documentary that shines the spotlight on a sport that gets little visibility in Australia, a country better known for tennis, football and water sports. The best thing about the film is that it involves us in Lydia’s life, her pragmatic approach to her passion and how her family supports her in her endeavours.
One of the most memorable scenes is watching Lydia’s Finnish former mogul skier husband Lauri ‘Late’ Lassila and her toddler son Kai as they stand in the snow watching Lydia practice in the lead up to the China Olympics. Kai is sitting on his father’s shoulders, stating in a matter of fact fashion that ‘Mum fell down’ – in Finnish. While Lydia may have nerves of steel as she attempts the impossible – her dream of a quadruple twisting triple summersault at the Olympics, her mother and mother-in-law offer a more understandable response. They are too nervous to watch.
It takes a while to understand the rhythm of the sport as former champions talk about Lydia as well as their own experiences. Highly dangerous, there is ‘a big wow factor’, as we watch first hand the extraordinarily difficulties of training and preparing for the major Olympic Events. The film plays much more successfully as a documentary than the upcoming Eddie the Eagle, another sporting success story, whose treatment never lives up to its elements.
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