By Jack Tarrant
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Australian Lydia Lassila took a huge breath, looked down at her coach and then went for it, the final jump of an illustrious career that spanned five Olympic Games.
It was far from the perfect ending, however, as she crumpled on her landing during qualification for the final of the women’s aerials on Thursday, failing to make it through.
The 36-year-old, an Olympic champion in Vancouver eight years ago and a bronze medalist in Sochi four years later, had already decided to bow out after Pyeongchang, no matter the result.
Speaking to reporters after her final jump, she confirmed her retirement.
“I am going to retire, which I’m kind of looking forward to as well,” she said.
“I’ve had a great career. It hasn’t been easy.
“I have loved every minute and whilst it’s horrible now and I’ll probably go home and cry for a few hours in disappointment, I’m grateful for my health, the opportunity, for what this sport taught me.”
Lassila finished a painful 14th in qualifying, but said she can now see through the disappointment to reflect on an incredible career that spanned over 17 years.
“I’m in one piece and we’ve got two Australians in the final, I’ve got two Olympic medals. On reflection it’s not so bad,” she said.
“You’ve got to let it go and what’s done is done. I’m sad to not be in the finals and I’m sure a lot of competitors are happy that I’m not in the finals.
“But you win some and you lose some and unfortunately today was not my day.”
Lassila added that aerials had given her so much in her life and she was always thankful to the sport.
“It’s stripped me down to my core,” she said. “I know who I am and I’m really grateful for that opportunity. Peace out.”
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Toby Davis)