Review : The Will to Fly book by Lydia Lassila

Book Review: The Will to Fly by Mum2Athletes

“The Will to Fly” book is an inspiring autobiography by Lydia Lassila, Mother and four-time Olympian. Following on from the recent release of the must-see feature film documentary, the book offers added detail. It provides significant description around each event, injury, feeling, hardship and triumph in Lydia’s amazing sporting career.

The Will to Fly book review by Mum2Athletes


The Will to Fly book covers the complete story of Lydia Lassila. She was a sporty and competitive girl from a very young age. She competed in gymnastics at an elite level throughout her high school years. After leaving gymnastics, Lydia transitioned into the new sport of aerial skiing. This was part of a new initiative developed by the Olympic Winter Institute. Ex-gymnasts were specifically recruited into the program. It was here that she was able to achieve her childhood goal of competing at an Olympic Games. She also conquered her long time goal of being the first woman in the world to compete the “quadruple twisting, triple somersault” on skis!

The Will to Fly film provided some insight into Lydia’s earlier years. It was however, more heavily focused on her journey from the 2010 Olympic triumph through to her last Olympics in 2014 where she chased her dream of jumping like a man. 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.

Review of The Will to Fly book

An Inspirational story of achievement

Lydia’s story is truly unique.

It is not just one about her “talent and relentless work ethic” to learn a new sport and qualify for her first Olympics within two years after learning to ski.

It is not just one about competing at an elite level in an extreme sport where you can fly as high as 19 metres twisting and flipping above the landing, impacted by wind and snow and different weather conditions every time you jump, and where the landing is hard and unforgiving on the body.

It is not just one about her amazing competition successes including World Cup and Olympic medals over her career of 14 years, or even her ambition to set new boundaries for women in aerial skiing.

For me, it is just as much about Lydia’s unyielding determination, tenacity and strength to overcome so, so many injuries (from concussion, shoulder surgery, torn ACLs, prolapsed discs in the back and the list goes on…) and numerous other obstacles, whilst conquering all these milestones. It was almost unbelievable to read about her constant state of injury. The fact that she endured so much pain, frustration, disappointment, setback, and heartache, but each time was able to move forward, not give up and continually improve, makes her achievements so much more sweet. Lydia’s last Olympic Games as a mother of young boy Kai, also added another element of physical recovery and demand, planning, mental strength, and responsibility. The recollection of her entire career in such detail allowed me to appreciate the enormity of Lydia’s achievements after overcoming so many significant obstacles.

Commentary from other stakeholders

I enjoyed the many snippets of external commentary throughout The Will to Fly book. They came from coaches, family, and even Lydia herself through her diary entries. These provided another level of insight into her personality, athletic skill and ability, and her own thoughts and motivations.

Raises many themes of interest for young athletes and parents

Lydia’s story raises so many themes of interest for me, both as someone interested in sport, but also as a mum of young athletes. I think this is why it is such a great story to tell as it does provoke food for thought on so many levels. These include:

  • The unique mindset of a World and Olympic champion – not just athletic talent.
  • Sacrifices you need to make in becoming a young elite athlete including social interaction among school peers and academic grades.
  • Mental strength can set apart the champions from the many skilled athletes.
  • The importance of setting your vision then planning how to achieve your goals.
  • Focus on the process, not the outcome.
  • Understanding value of delayed gratification to reach your ultimate goal.
  • The importance of correct management and recovery from injury.
  • The possibilities beyond traditional boundaries if you believe in yourself.
  • Talent transfer opportunities in sport.
  • Gender equality in sport.
  • The importance of a complete support network including family, top coaches, sports psychology and daily physio attention.
  • Mind strengthening and visualisation techniques for training enhancement.

Easy to read style

The Will to Fly book is written in an easy to read style. It also includes some great photos from Lydia’s childhood, her time as a gymnast, aerial skiing experiences, and more personal milestones also.

Valuable Personal Insights

I really enjoyed reading about Lydia’s thoughts and views throughout her career. These provided a real insight into her strength to overcome adversity and the determination, hard work and dedication to be a champion.

  • Lydia shares her “best attributes as an athlete.” She could recognise from a young age that other kids playing sport weren’t the same as her.
  • From early on in her aerial skiing career, she compared herself to the men rather than her female peers. Her ultimate goal was to close the gap between men and women in the sport and be the first woman in history to perform a jump previously only competed by men.
  • After so many injuries and setbacks, it was fascinating to read about how she moves forward each time and continues to progress and achieve new heights.
  • Lydia leaves the reader with a valuable final chapter on “My Six Steps to Goal-Setting.” This is great to read and I think shows how much she learned over her career. Even though she set herself goals from a young age, as a rookie aerial skier who seemed to just smash out her body ignoring the signs of injury, she matured into an athlete who learned to be smart and not take unnecessary risks to reach those goals in the end.


I very much enjoyed The Will to Fly autobiography by Lydia Lassila.

Lydia’s story encapsulates and provokes so many thoughts regarding athlete development. She offers an honest insight into the mindset of an Olympic champion. The book stimulates thoughts on many themes and issues surrounding elite level sport. She 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.

A younger pre-teen athlete might however, better appreciate Lydia’s story in the film format. There is lengthy detail of each competition and training camp in the book. My youngest daughter (tween) absolutely loved the movie! She thought it was so inspiring and felt totally uplifted after watching it. Meeting with Lydia and taking a photo with her was also a special highlight!

I would recommend The Will to Fly to lovers of sport, athletes (teenagers and older), parents of athletes and those interested in a truly inspiring story of how a talented athlete succeeded against significant hurdles to not only reach her childhood dreams but to also become the best female aerial skier ever!

You can purchase a copy of The Will to Fly book by Lydia Lassila from Slattery Media.*

*Active + Nourished was given a copy of The Will to Fly book to read and review by Slattery Media. All reviews reflect our honest opinions. Please refer to our Disclosure Policy for further details.


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