The Will To Fly (G)
Directors: Leo Baker, Katie Bender
Starring: Lydia Lassila, Lauri Lassila, Alisa Camplin, Jacqui Cooper.
Taking snow for an answer
For Australian aerial skiing champion Lydia Lassila, it all came to down to one incredible manoeuvre at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
A quadruple-twisting triple jump. To be performed with the eyes of the world upon her. Against the hottest competition in her field.
Just to further up the ante: no woman had ever landed the move before.
A surprisingly compelling sports documentary, The Will To Fly traces the long and winding path taken by Lassila to reach this career-defining moment.
Most contemporary docos on sports subjects are straight exercises in brand management, and invariably tend towards bland homage. Not this one.
Lassila’s intensely blinkered obsession with her craft — which often resulted in many severe injuries and significant personal sacrifices — is presented in a refreshingly honest manner that will be embraced by viewers of all persuasions.
Even those onlookers who have no knowledge of what is a hyper-competitive and resolutely demanding discipline.
A product of Melbourne’s western suburbs (annual snowfall: zero), Lassila started out as a gymnast before a chance suggestion pointed her towards the then-obscure sport of female aerials in the late 1990s.
The first phase of Lassila’s long career — which ended with a knee reconstruction in the mid-2000s — is covered in particularly gripping fashion here.
Lydia’s fearless nature in both competition and training conditions during this era resulted in some terrifying crashes which are chilling to witness.
The filmmakers also rightly clear plenty of space to acknowledge other female Australian pioneers of the sport (such as Alisa Camplin and Jacqui Cooper) whose journeys have intersected with Lassila’s in a number of fascinating ways.
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