01 March 2016


Olympic champion freestyle aerial skier Lydia Lassila, subject of the new documentary The Will to Fly, talks about her career, family and her bid to master the jump no woman has yet nailed.




“When I started the sport, there was a distinction between male and female aerial skiers … but 1couldn’t understand why there’s a difference in a sport that’s technically [equal]. There are big guys and small guys, the same as women … it’s all relative to what your body can handle. I was determined to prove that wrong and inspire other women to take that path rather than stay in the comfort zone.”


“A jump takes about three seconds. It’s amazing what your body and mind can process in such a short time. Once in the air that’s the easy part; I’m on autopilot. My coach will be calling ‘stretch’ or ‘pull’; those are the split-second decisions I have to be ready to make because the landing is quite steep. He can see your apex, how far you’re travelling. We rely on [the coach’s] eyes, they give us information in the air.”


“This is a critical moment. I reassure myself I’ve done the training, I’ve done the preparation. But there’s a constant battle of uncertainty and certainty, a constant battle of confidence. I still feel quite a lot of fear, and need to convince myself everything’s okay. You can make or break the jump with just those last thoughts. I tell myself: ‘stand strong’, ‘you can do it’, ‘trust yourself.”


My husband Lauri understands the sport and what it means to me to reach my full potential. He has sacrificed a lot, he’s been very supportive • and I think I would not have been able to do anything without him.”


“Becoming a mum is a moment that you get that wider perspective on life. When I was a rookie athlete, sport was my only thing, I was so tunnel-visioned. I just wanted to be an athlete and win gold medals. When I had Kai it was tough, emotionally it was really taxing having to leave him behind to train overseas, and that can then affect how you perform as an athlete as well. But it was my goal, and we gave him an amazing experience, travelling the world and meeting so many different people, so there are pros and cons to every situation. We just try to focus on the positives.”

The Will to Fly, a documentary focusing on Lydia Lassila’s extraordinary life and career, opens on March 10.