A fifth Winter Olympics for Lydia Lassila?
For Lydia Lassila it’s the $8 million question to which she has a simple answer: build a proper water jump facility for snow athletes in Australia and she’ll have a crack at a fifth Winter Olympics.
For those that don’t know, water ramps can be just as key for winter athletes as the snowbound facilities. It is here where they spend their summers (and often parts of their winters) to learn, perform and perfect the tricks they will take to the hills.
A water jump facility was initially slated to be built in east Brisbane but the project was halted in 2013, then Liberal Premier Campbell Newman calling it a “luxury item the people of Queensland simply cannot afford”. The NSW far north coast town of Lennox Head then became a possible home for the site but development plans are still on ice, waiting for funding from the state and federal governments.
Ok, I can hear the guffaws already. I love winter sports and even I have my doubts. But the the two-time Winter Olympic medallist (Vancouver 2010, gold and Sochi 2014 bronze) lays down a case as smooth as her triple-twisting double-somersaults.
It’s not just about her, you see.
“It becomes more than just a facility,” she says. “Freestyle is a larger family; it’s not just aerials and moguls. It’s slopestyle, big air, halfpipe – all those athletes can use it.”
Water ramps … fun for the whole family eh
So, sans short track skater Steven Bradbury’s last man standing routine in 2002, the sports in which every other Australian Winter Olympics medal has come since 2002. That’s nine (including four gold).
But it doesn’t end there.
“The ones that are successful overseas get groups (of punters) in. It’s almost like a theme park with slip ‘n’ slides going off the jumps. You can have divers, water polo, swimmers – it really is a shared facility,” Lassila says citing the examples of the sites in Mettmenstetten, Switzerland and Park City, Utah.
“The sleepy town of Lennox Head could be having 15 Olympians living in its town and that’s a great benefit to the community in terms of economic impact.”
If it doesn’t come to fruition in the next year a tilt at Pyeongchang in South Korea 2018 is out for Lassila.
“It’s a shame – I would like to keep going but it’s just not going to be possible to do the ten months away with two kids. It was hard enough with just one.”
With years of promises and retractions, you get the sense Lassila’s not holding her breath. Besides, life has continued apace since her remarkable bronze medal in Sochi where she attempted a first for a woman in the final – a quad-twisting triple somersault – only just failing to stick the landing.
There has been the birth of her second child Alek, running her compression treatment business Body Ice and then another breakthrough – Australia’s first full length sports documentary.
Lassila was approached three years ago by former aerial skier turned film maker Katie Bender to do a documentary on her sport.
The result – which is to get national cinematic release in October – is ‘The Will to Fly’.
“I am always shy and not one for massive self promotion but what they have done is amazing,” she says of the all-but finished end result.
“The messages that come out of that film: Resilience, coming out on top after dealing with a lot of adversity … gender equality and inspiring mums to go back to work and girls to shoot through the glass ceiling. I think it is a really positive story … a bit of tear jerker without giving too much away. It’s not like a sports documentary and it is not a ski movie. It’s so much more than that.”
A bit like Lassila herself. More than the sum of her parts.