The Will to Fly Movie Review - Active + Nourished

“The Will To Fly” – An Inspiring Sports Documentary!

I was privileged to watch a pre-screening of the movie “The Will to Fly”. This is an inspiring, feature-length sports documentary about Lydia Lassila – an Australian mother, Olympic champion in aerial skiing, and the first woman in the world to compete the “quadruple twisting, triple somersault” on skis! Here is the Movie Review by Active + Nourished.

Movie Review of "The Will to Fly" - Documentary Feature Film about Lydia Lassila


“The Will to Fly” chronicles the development of Lydia as a young athlete through to her progression and achievements over four Olympic Games. Her journey began at the tender age of 3 in calisthenics. She then moved to gymnastics at the age of 6 where she was extremely successful at the elite level. However, her Olympic hopes in this sport were dashed by circumstance and injury. She was forced to retire at the age of 16.

Lydia Lassila as a young gymnast

Through the Australian talent transfer program, Lydia switched to aerial skiing and rediscovered her passion for sport, competition, and personal achievement. Within only 2 years after learning to ski, Lydia qualified for the Australian team to compete at her first Olympic Games as an aerial skier. Over the following years of continued hard work, perseverance, determination, and resilience after numerous setbacks due to serious injury, Lydia eventually won gold at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver in the freestyle skiing aerials, with a world record score that still stands today.

Lydia’s passion and love for her sport did not dim even after she became a mother to her first son Kai. She returned to training with a new sense of purpose, not only defend her Olympic title, but to be the first woman to compete the most complex acrobatic manoeuvre in the world that only men had ever achieved before, a “quadruple twisting, triple somersault” on skis at the next Olympic Games in 2014 in Sochi.

Lydia Lassila - Preparing for a jump
Lydia Lassila in action

Active + Nourished’s movie review

This is an inspiring feature film. It left me feeling an overwhelming sense of awe and admiration for this amazing woman. In her younger years, you can see an unwavering determination and immense competitiveness in her psyche. Combined with her natural talent and athletic ability, she became a dominant force in her new sport.

The film identifies the differing stages through Lydia’s aerial skiing career. She starts as the gutsy rookie. Some would say “crazy” in her younger days where she would immediately pop back up after crashing to take another jump. This was particularly hard to watch – Lydia is one tough cookie! After periods of up, downs and injuries, Lydia found her mental breakthrough. This was after seeking support from a Sports Mind Coach to “unlock my mind to be the best athlete I could be.” She then enjoyed a period of success from here up to her 2010 Olympic gold medal win. Her last chapter in this film is as the experienced, matured athlete and mother who chases down her long time dream (since the age of 19) to jump like the boys!

Lydia’s tenacity stood out. And along with her undeniable talent, she was able to conquer her goals. It was extremely surprising to understand just how many significant setbacks she endured over the years with major injuries. Her ability to bounce back and refocus to achieve new heights was therefore even more admirable.

Offers a real insight into what drives a champion

I really enjoyed the candid and honest commentary from Lydia’s peers. Of particular interest were comments from Jacqui Cooper, Alissa Camplin and Kirstie Marshall. They were all Australian female aerial skiing champions who made their own mark on the sport. They provided independent insight into Lydia’s personality. Interviews with coaches delivered the perspective needed to appreciate not only her talent but the enormity of her final goal. The documentary also provides a glimpse into Lydia’s family. This allows you to understand the sacrifice she makes to be away from her young son in order to train and compete, and also that of her husband and extended family in providing assistance. The film highlights this major support network as crucial to enabling Lydia to chase her dreams.


This is a very positive and empowering story that parents and young athletes will both be able to appreciate. The film presents many themes including mental strength, determination, hard work and resilience. It also raises the topics of gender equality and women in sport. Specific to young athletes, there are many lessons to be learned. These include patience, training smarter not harder, but also to dare to dream outside the boundaries if you are willing to work hard and never give up. Lydia’s performance at her last Olympics was also based on her ethic that winning is not everything “but going for greatness in a sport and doing something no one had done was more important.”

I would highly recommend “The Will to Fly” to all sports lovers. As a personal tale, this film would also appeal to anyone interested in a true story of someone overcoming continued adversity to achieve their goals. I will be taking both my girls to watch this film when publicly released.

Lydia Lassila with her young son KaiPhotos are courtesy of  “The Will to Fly”

Movie details

Rating – G
Genre – Documentary, Sports, Drama, Family
Stars – Lydia Lassila with Alisa Camplin, Jacqui Cooper, Kirstie Marshall
Time – 99 minutes
Directors – Katie Bender, Leo Baker
Release Date – The Will to Fly premieres in Australia on 10th March 2016.

Movie Trailer

The Will to Fly autobiography for book lovers!

Since the movie release, Lydia has also published an autobiography.

The book offers a more complete and detailed picture of Lydia’s life and achievements. It fills in some of the gaps the movie did not detail from her earlier years.

The book stimulates thoughts on many themes and issues surrounding elite level sport. Lydia shares the many experiences to avoid but also the secrets to her success. This would be of interest to both athletes and parents of athletes.

You can read our full BOOK review here at “Review: The Will to Fly book by Lydia Lassila.

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