There were two statements from Australian competitors at the Sochi Olympics that deserve a gold medal in my book. The first was from aerial skiing champion, Lydia Lassila.
Lassila, 32, from my home, Melbourne, was competing in her fourth Olympics and was the defending champion from the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. Since then, she’s also had a baby boy. On her last run at Sochi, she chose to do the most difficult aerial trick ever attempted by a woman at the Olympics: the quadruple-twisting triple somersault. Her execution was perfect through the air and at the very end she didn’t hold the landing. For the degree of difficulty, she won the bronze medal.
Technically, she failed to land the jump and failed to win the gold medal. She saw something very different. This is what she said afterwards.
I really went for it … I’m really happy. I’m sorry I’m crying, but it’s joy. It’s happiness. It was my maximum effort. To be able to do that trick in the super final was something. I’ve left my mark forever, and made history with that trick. It would’ve been great to land it, but I was stretching for my life. It’s been an amazing journey until now … These Olympics were more about me reaching my potential as an aerial skier. I’ve wanted to do that trick for 15 years. I saw the guys at Mount Buller doing it at a World Cup in 1999, and I was just mesmerised. I couldn’t ski yet, but I thought, ‘I want to jump like a guy. I want to do that trick’. It’s been a long journey ever since. I’ve been trying my whole career to do that. It was really important for me to realise that.
The second gold-medal statement I heard in a radio interview with male aerial skier, David Morris, after he won the silver medal. For most of the Sochi event, there were complaints about the quality of the snow and the jumps, and a higher than usual number of crashes, and when they asked him about it he said,
I just refused to crash.