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Lydia Lassila (née Ierodiaconou) (born 17 January 1982, in Melbourne) is an Australian Olympic freestyle skier and gold medalist who competed in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin and the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

On 20 October 2010, Lydia was awarded by the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame the prestigious The Don award, recognising her ability to inspire as well as her achievements during 2010.

Personal life

She is of Greek-Cypriot and Italian descent, with her mother an Italian and her father a Cypriot.[1]

Lassila completed her primary schooling at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Primary School in Sunshine, and completed her secondary education at Methodist Ladies' College and Westbourne Grammar School. She completed a bachelor's degree in Applied Science (Human Movement) at RMIT University.[2] She is married to Lauri Lassila, a Finnish former professional freestyle skier, whose career included placing 2nd in moguls at the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Championships in 1999. She gave birth to a boy on 8 May 2011. Lassila is sponsored by Acer and appears in television endorsements for them. She is also sponsored by Suzuki, Cadbury and Bolle.
Career

In June 2005, she suffered a ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and underwent a radical knee reconstruction whereby a cadaver Achilles tendon was grafted into her knee as a replacement for her damaged ACL. This would allow for a faster recovery and a swift return to the slopes in time for the start of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in February.

During the second qualifying round of the Torino aerials competition, her knee collapsed on impact after she attempted to land a difficult jump, re-rupturing her ACL and forcing her to withdraw. However, taking inspiration from compatriots and teammates Jacqui Cooper and Alisa Camplin, both of whom have suffered similar knee injuries, the then 24-year-old vowed to return to the sport when she recovered.

Lassila made her comeback to World Cup competition 16 months later in China in December 2007, collecting a silver medal in her first event.

She ended the 2007/08 season ranked second on the World Cup standings, and then went on to win her first World Cup title in the following 2008/09 season.
2010 Winter Olympics
See also: Freestyle skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympics

At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Lassila won gold in the aerials, getting Australia's second gold medal for the games after snowboarder Torah Bright won gold in the halfpipe, incidentally also at Cypress Mountain. This medal was also the second gold medal for an Australian in the aerials at all Winter Olympic Games, after Alisa Camplin in 2002. As world number one there was a lot of pressure and hype from the Australian press for Lassila to do well. She was in second position after the first jump of the final, before posting the highest scoring second round jump. The leader after the first jump, Xu Mengtao, had the last jump, but scored more than 25 points below Lassila's second jump to fall down the rankings into sixth, due to a failed landing. Lassila had a combined score of 214.74, beating second placed Li Nina on 207.23 points. Australian team-mates Jacqui Cooper and Elizabeth Gardner finished 5th with 194.29 and 12th with 86.70 respectively.[3]
References

^ Lydia Lassila bio@ NBC Olympics
^ Gold for RMIT graduate - RMIT News, 25 February 2010
^ "Ladies' Aerials - final results". Retrieved 2010-02-24.

Lassila wins Don award

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