Dual-Olympic medallist Lydia Lassila’s career came to an unceremonious end in Pyeongchang after she failed to qualify for the final of the women’s aerials competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The five-time Olympian could not land the jumps she needed to secure progression to the medal round, with Australians Danielle Scott and Laura Peel left to fly the flag in the event.
While Lassila cast a lonely figure at the bottom of the hill after missing out, she will be remembered as an athlete that reached the pinnacle of her sport.
“Lydia’s had an absolutely wonderful journey,” Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said.
“Everyone would have wanted her to finish on a high this time. It hasn’t been the case, but she will always be a champion for us.”
For an athlete that has done it all in an unforgiving sport, Chesterman has no doubt about the legacy she will leave for the Australian Olympic team.
“It’s an extraordinary record in that sport. To win a gold medal and a bronze medal they’ll always be there around her neck,” he said.
“She’s left a great mark on our sport and our country.”
‘One of the greats of Australian winter sports’
Lassila made her debut in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City where she finished in 8th position, seven spots behind Australia’s first ever Winter Olympic gold medallist Alisa Camplin.
In one of the most dangerous sports in the Olympics, it was no surprise Lassila suffered injuries along the way.
In her second qualifying run in the 2006 games in Turin she suffered an ACL injury that kept her from competition for over a year.
Her redemption was swift, and she claimed gold in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
After taking a break from the sport to raise her first child, she returned to the aerials competition to qualify for the Sochi games.
There, Lassila became just the fifth Australian to win a second Olympic Winter Games medal when she claimed bronze.
After those games she once again took a break to raise her second child before returning for an appearance in Pyeongchang.
Lassila flagged that these games would be her last.
After a World Cup victory weeks before the Olympics, expectations had risen that a fairy-tale finish could be on the cards.
While she faltered in South Korea, she leaves the sport having achieved more than many Australian winter athletes.
“She’s had some highs and lows over her career,” Mr Chesterman said.
“This is a low right now, but she’ll reflect back and think this has been an absolutely amazing career.”
Mr Chesterman watched Lassila’s last Olympic jump on a phone from the official medal reception for Scotty James and Jarryd Hughes.
The bittersweet moment played out in public, as just a few minutes later Mr Chesterman presented James and Hughes to the Australian officials and their families and friends.
“While Lydia won’t be here any further in this competition, what we’ve seen is the next generation coming through,” he said.
“She’s been one of the greats of Australian winter sports, she leaves a fantastic legacy.”