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Lassila lauds new ski ramp for Brisbane

29 March 2019

WINTER SPORTS: The southern hemisphere’s first year-round freestyle ski-jumping facility will be built in Brisbane, offering a world-class training base for Winter Olympians.

Tuesday’s announcement of a world-class training facility, including six ramps of different sizes to cater for different disciplines and experience, is a huge boost for Australian athletes.

There are few people in the world more experienced at launching themselves off a ski ramp at top speed than five-time Olympian Lydia Lassila.

After spending years of her career training and competing overseas, the Vancouver 2010 gold medallist is ecstatic at the news and says the ramp will have a major impact on the future of winter sport in Australia.

“This is absolutely exhilarating,” Lassila said. “This will be the world’s best facility and will help push Aussie athletes even higher.

“Having a home base, rather than having to fly all over the world to reach facilities like this, means funding can go to athletes rather than travel and makes sure that money is invested here at home.”

After juggling the demands of elite sport with university, work, starting a family and running a business, while also having to spend up to 10 months a year overseas, Lassila knows this will be huge for current and future athletes.

“The pressure of being away nine or ten months each year can grind people down and makes it hard for athletes to live a balanced life. If we want to develop holistic athletes that have great performances and balanced people, this is an amazing step in the right direction.

“This means athletes can reach their best performance while being close to their family and support network. They can choose to go to uni in person rather than online – a lot of the things that may be normal for other sports but we haven’t had access to in Australia for freestyle skiing without that home training base.

“It was really hard trying to juggle everything during my career without that Australian base. I’m secretly wishing I was 20 years younger and could come into a program with these facilities,” Lassila laughed.

Despite proudly representing Australia at five Olympics, Lassila’s training and competition schedule meant she and her winter teammates were often on the other side of the world to their Aussie fans.

medals

“A lot of winter athletes are out of sight, out of mind – and it’s hard for kids to get into a sport when they don’t see their heroes competing on home soil.

“Freestyle skiing is spectacular. This facility means kids and the next generation will be able to watch athletes from beginners to Olympic champions launching off the ramps and seeing what it’s all about in the flesh.

“This will really put it front of mind and will give great exposure for our sport and athletes.”

The team have previously done their water ramp training out of Park City, Utah. An added benefit of Brisbane’s ramp is being able to control training times, rather than being at the mercy of foreign facilities and teams.

“We’ll be able to call the shots of our own facility, dictating when we can train. Having our own ramp that we can take advantage of year-round is a great edge.

“This is the first ramp in the world where we can practice on the water ramp and transfer instantly to the snow. Being able to go so quickly from the water ramp in Brisbane to the Australian slopes is unique and will be an amazing edge for us.

“Australian Winter Olympians have done an amazing job with the resources we’ve had and it’s an exciting time to see just how high we can push things now.”

Dominic Sullivan

olympics.com.au

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