Lydia Lassila always believed she would possess an Olympic gold medal one day, first as a gymnast, then during 10 years as a freestyle aerial skier.
She has attended four Olympics, Salt Lake City, Torino, Vancouver and Sochi, the first just two years after she first began to ski. In 2009, after being a four-time runner-up for the World Cup title (in 03, 04, 05 and 08) Lassila broke through to win the World Championships. She also won the 2009 World Cup title, making her the favourite for the Games of Vancouver 2010. Second-placed after the first round, she won gold with an audacious triple-twisting triple somersault. She was Australia's flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony.
After the Vancouver Games, Lassila took time out of the sport to start a family, giving birth to her son Kai in May 2011, and concentrate on business pursuits.
She returned to competition in December 2012, with the view of defending her Olympic title. She made a resounding return, placing second in Changchun, China - her first World Cup competition in three years.
At Sochi 2014, Lydia went on to win bronze attempting the most difficult aerial - a quad-twisting triple somersault - ever attempted by a woman at the Olympics.
Keep an eye on this adrenaline junkie, race car driving may just be another talent for the gifted Olympian.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
I love the thrill of being afraid. The heart pounding through my chest and the uncertainty of what’s going to happen and then going for it anyway! Pushing through the fear barrier to see what lies on the other side is both exhilarating and very rewarding.
What does racing in the Mazda3 Celebrity Challenge mean to you and what are you looking forward to most?
I love Formula One so it’s awesome for me to be able to drive the Albert Park track and at least imagine being a racing car driver! I’m looking forward to having the freedom to drive as fast as I can. I’ve never been in a race with cars so I’m sure that’s going to be entertaining.
Do you follow Formula One? What’s your favourite Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix or Formula One memory or experience?
I love Formula One and go to the Aussie GP every year. By far my best memory was actually riding in the 2-seater after my win in the 2010 Winter Olympics. I’ll never forget those 3 laps where it felt like my heart was leaving my chest as we accelerated on the straights. I already had high respect for the Formula One drivers but even more so after that knowing what their body and mind endures over 60 laps!
Who is your favourite Formula One driver and why?
Very tough call, but I’ve got to say I’m a fan of Kimi Raikkonen. He’s a great driver and some of his one-liners have been hilarious over the years!