Lassila Soars to Claim Gold for Australia

China takes other two medals in women's skiing aerials
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2010 5:00 AM CST
Lassila Soars to Claim Gold for Australia
Lydia Lassila of Australia performs her first jump in the women's freestyle skiing aerials final at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010.    (Mark J. Terrill)

The strange path to Olympic glory on the aerials course often includes a start as a gymnast, then moves onto a stretch of comebacks from a series of bad knee injuries. One other twist: being from Australia can help. Lydia Lassila brought the third Olympic aerials medal—and second gold—to the land of sun and sand last night, flying pencil-straight through the dreary fog to defeat two of China's best, Li Nina and Guo Xinxin.

Lassila credits the Aussie government and its freestyle program for creating her country's success by bankrolling the training, most of which is done overseas, where there is more ice and snow than Down Under. Lassila, who shredded her knee for the second time during qualifying at the Turin Games, nailed a pair of jumps to not only prevent a Chinese sweep, but knock the world's other big aerials power off the top of the podium. (More skiing stories.)

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