When she was 17 Lydia Lassila got a call from the Olympic Winter Institute asking if she’d like to be recruited to become an Aerial skier. At that point she had never been on skis before—in fact she'd never even seen snow before.

“The whole world was just foreign to me. I'd never been to the snow. I've never skied before… I figured at that point, “what's the worst that's going to happen?” It just looked spectacular to me… so I said, “Yep, I'll give it to go.”

It's been almost a twenty-year journey from that moment to her current status as one the legends of Australian winter sports. An ambassador of XTM right from the beginning, Lydia has worked with Pete and the team since the early days.

“I feel like I've been a real part of the XTM family. Designing new gloves and figuring out what we could bring to XTM and make it better. I feel like I’ve really been a part of developing the product, but also the culture of XTM; which is really high performance and Australian-made. It’s been great fun to be a part of it.”

Lydia's first passion was gymnastics and you still sense that pedigree when watching her launch into one of her practically flawless aerial rotations. Hearing Lydia talk about her drive, awareness and strictly dedicated ethic—even in the face of injury-related setbacks—it’s clear that the blood of a gymnast still runs through her veins.

“Aerials is the element of fear on a daily basis. It’s that flipping from heights with skis on. Lots can happen…. And so to make it through all that and to keep wanting to go, you've got to have some certain qualities.”

Those qualities have helped Lydia to a crazy 81 Aerial Skiing World Cups and World Championships, netting 35 podiums, of which 13 have been gold.

Not to mention an Olympic gold in Vancouver and an Olympic bronze in Sochi, where she became the first ever female athlete to land a quad-twisting triple somersault. It’s an inspirational story serendipitously captured in the critically acclaimed film 'The Will to Fly', which chronicles Lydia’s life and drive to become the world’s best.

“I took on a bit of a risk to filming ‘The Will to Fly’ leading into the Olympics… But I looked at it as a way of being able to help and promote the sport… the impact that it's had on people has just been really humbling and really cool.”

A short retirement followed the podium in Sochi, giving Lydia time off with her two kids and husband Late at their home on the Great Ocean Road in Lorne. Not a bad place for an Olympic skier to shift focus—albeit temporarily—to pursuits that don't involve hurtling down a steep slope and launching off Aerial ramps.

“I love coming home... And I just love being able to hang out with my boys, Late and my family. I’m pretty lucky and blessed.”

And that connection to her family is never far away when she's on snow. Lydia keeps the name of her two boys—Kai and Alek—written on her XTM gloves.

“I just wanted to write their names to make sure they’re with me at all times… and I love the Platinum glove… I love the leather feel and it's perfect, it's grippy so I can join my hands together as I take off the jump… if it's really cold, then I’d jump into the Crema Mitt.”

The potential for a podium finish at the Olympics has ultimately tempted Lydia back from that short-lived retirement. After taking out three World Cup wins last year she is now looking at securing her place as one of the all-time greats in PyeongChang. This will be her fifth time competing at the Winter Olympic Games.

“I tried to retire, I really did… but I did one training camp, did a few flips and loved it. You know, the same feelings came back. That adrenaline… the focus from jump to jump and just tinkering with the technique… I had three weeks of training last season on the water ramps and I won three World Cups. So I'm pretty happy with that conversion.”

Who wouldn’t be? Ladies’ Aerials start on day seven of the Winter Olympic Games (February 15), and we’ll be backing our Aussie girls all the way to take out a spot on the podium.

Check out Lydia on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The movie The Will to Fly is also available to purchase online now.

XTM’s own Al Dower will be on the ground in Pyeongchang for the Games, cheering on Lydia and the rest of the team and sending back all the news as it happens. Subscribe to our news for all the latest updates and interviews.

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