Not perfect, but good enough for Lassila

Lydia Lassila described it as the imperfect perfect career.

And it was pretty hard to argue the point.

There were the down days.

Thursday night for one - when she bombed her two jumps at the aerials site in PyeongChang, expediting her retirement after almost two decades in the sport.

It came after days spent training the very same tricks where she found it hard to miss.

Then there was the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

Jumping masterfully at the time she looked set for her first Olympic medal when her knee crumbled underneath her as she failed to cleanly land a jump; her screams echoing across the venue.

But there was perfection too; jumping through the fog at Vancouver's Cypress Mountain four years later to take gold.

There were also 16 World Cup wins spread over 16 years.

And there were those moments that fell somewhere in between, like the 2014 Winter Olympics where she attempted a quad-twisting triple-somersault in the final.

She failed to land it but her motives were pure; she wanted to progress her sport because it had become stale.

Lassila got a bronze medal for her troubles anyway.

Olympic Winter Institute chief executive Geoff Lipshut described Lassila as the last of the all-time Australian winter greats but as more gifted than the fellow aerial skier Alisa Camplin, snowboarder Torah Bright and moguls skier Dale Begg-Smith.

"Lydia, though, has the most talent of any athlete that I have ever worked with," he said.

He cited her having come from a career as a junior gymnast to competing in an Olympic freestyle skiing final in less than two and a half years as proof.

Lassila, 36, said Thursday night's performance was a horrible way to end but she was at peace with herself.

"It's not always realistic; it's not always a fairytale," she said.

"If you can leave your career with no regrets you are winning."

She was perhaps most proud of being able to do it all in later years with two children.

"Somehow we managed to do that - find a balance between being an elite athlete, being a mum, being a business owner, being a wife and finding a balance where everyone was happy and moving forward. And that was an achievement," she said.

She felt the sport was in good hands in terms of athletes and administration in Australia but said after two government approvals which were later rescinded - it was time to finally get a water jumping facility somewhere in the country.

"It's time to put the ball in our court. We've proven our success in this sport," she said.

Her major was one of perseverance and for athletes, not seeking a quick fix or win in their sport.

"I've learnt a lot," she said.

"You take a few hits, you take a few wins and you have to get yourself back up and soldier on. It's certainly a skill I have learned from this sport."

LYDIA LASSILA

World Cup wins: 16

Other World Cup podium finishes: 23

World Championships (5). Best finish: 5th

Olympic Games (5). Best finishes: 1st 2010; 3rd 2014.

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