24 Nov Loving the Finnish Lifestyle with Lydia Lassila
Loving Finnish Lifestyle with Lydia Lassila
Lydia Lassila is Olympic gold medallist, lover of Finnish lifestyle, mother, entrepreneur and public speaker. I wanted to talk to her about her Finnish connection, love of the Nordic Lifestyle and what she brings back when she visits Finland. She did not disappoint, sharing her journey from winning the gold in Vancouver to starting her successful icepack business while recovering from knee injury to what she really things is wrong in the Australian approach to recycling.
Talking about how Lydia got started on her skiing career, “I was a gymnast for many years wanting to go to the Olympics as a gymnast. Thinking I was going to be the next Nadia Comaneci and, and that’s what I dreamed about. I just fell in love with the movement, that idea of being able to compete against the best of the best and that was what I felt was my purpose. Click To Tweet”
“I stopped it at about 17, I had lots of injuries and I wasn’t going to make it and I came to that kind of reality and had to pull the pin. So about the same time, the Olympic 20 Institute in Australia where we’re starting off. I guess a pilot program had this idea of recruiting extremists and teaching them how to ski because in Australia, you don’t have a large amount of high numbers of skiers.
So using the acrobatic background from gymnastics, teaching them how to ski and turning them into aerial skates. I was the guinea pig of this program. I was asked if I was interested,
“I said, Yeah, I’ll have a go at this not knowing what I was getting myself into. And it was quite a steep learning curve. I had a great work ethic, I think from gymnastics, I had discipline. This was my second chance this sport, aerial skiing, was giving me a second chance to become an Olympian, which is I never thought would come around again.
So, I jumped literally at the opportunity and said, Yep, I’ll have a go. Started skiing, picked it up really quickly because I was, naturally quite talented and had the balance and all that and the work ethic, which then within I mean, to just cut a long story short, within 18 months, I was competing at my first Olympics in Salt Lake City.”
” But by taking a lot of risks in in a risky sport meant that I was getting quite injured as well, quite early on and, and I didn’t really understand being a young, 19 year old 18 year old that thatmy body was going to have to look up to me for the years to come Click To Tweet
In a sport that was quite high impact and quite dangerous. I guess when you’re young, you don’t realize that at the time you Just go. And I just wanted it, I was hungry, and I was doing tricks that I wasn’t never ready for, and hurting myself constantly. So, it took a few years for me to figure that out. I suppose that I didn’t have to train harder, I had to start training a lot smarter.”
“I was getting really good, but I was also getting quite hit. Especially after the 2006 Olympics, which I was entering I was looking pretty good, I was hot favourite.
That was kind of my mission to be able to close the gap between male and female, aerial skiers and I wanted to jump like a man and I just wanted to be the best. That was kind of looking on track, but I blew my knee my ACL about five, six months before the Olympics. So that kind of threw everything off track.”
“I had to go and get some radical surgery on my knee and have the reconstruction using an allograf, which is a donor graph so that I could recover and come back in time. So did the work and the rehab and I made it back and ended up blowing my knee out again in the semi finals of those Olympics. So it was a disaster campaign. And, and so it all goes back to kind of square one and having a year off from sport because I needed to have a few surgeries to fix my knee.”
“That’s when my kind of entrepreneurial spirit began. When I blow my knee in 2006, I had to ice it a lot. I had to use you ice on my knee constantly for pain management and for swelling and everything from surgery and the injury itself and I couldn’t really find an ice pack that would not leak and be cold enough. You get the gel packs and the are cold to begin with or too cold, they’re burning your skin and then they’re not cold enough and you can’t strap them in place and they just don’t stay there and so I was frustrated with that.”
“So I decided to make my own and in that year off from sport drew up some designs for four different ice packs that would fit on any joint of the body that were joint. Within six months, I had design done up and running.”
“ I bought a container full of them.I didn't know how I was going to sell the things but totally winging it. Click To Tweet
But figured you know, a lot of people were in my situation and needed the same solution to icing that injury. So I remember walking into my knee surgeon’s office with them on my knee. He was like, Ah what is this. I explained this is my new business. It’s called body ice and heat packs that don’t leak, they don’t slip and they stay in place. And he ordered 500 of the packs.”
“Then every experience I’ve had to childbirth having children has been led to, the body ice woman range which is ice and heat packs for women post birth and throughout breastfeeding. The products didn’t exist , a midwife just handed me this terrible goals with some ice cubes in it to shove it down to my pants and I’m like there’s gonna be something better than this. Of course, when my milk came in with Kai, Body Ice Women was born followed by my kids range.”
“That’s when the entrepreneurial kind of side of me started and then, of course, I wanted to go back to sport. Something’s got to change as I don’t want to be injured anymore. I want to win an Olympic gold medal and I still wanted to be the best female aerials skier who ever lived. The need of having people around me that that could help me get there and one of them was a mental coach of mine, Jeffrey Hodges, who I still work with is my mind mentor.”
“I mentor a lot of athletes and people and that’s always a focus is like, Who do you want to be? What do you want and let’s go there rather than thinking about the crap that’s happened to us in the past. That negative, feelings, you think of a conversation or an argument or a setback that you’ve had, and you can go there and you can physiologically recreate the stress of that, and that’s not healthy for anybody. So it’s more about to who we want to be andget some positive feelings and empowering feelings in going through your body Click To Tweet
instead and that’s that’s a choice.”
“I went to those 2010 Olympics feeling really strong and transformed mentally as well. And won those Olympics and, I guess I had from that, just that one year off I had balance. I had an income coming in already, from a different source outside of sport and I had become engaged to Lauri. In that year,I really found a lot of balance in my life Click To Tweet
,which I think for an athlete, it’s important to just not have that. I was so tunnel visioned before you know, and I was always I was very obsessive, which you do need to be to a certain extent, but having that setback really set me up for life outside of sport. It’s the best thing that could have happened to me.“
How has her athletic career shaped her entrepreneurial career?
Lydia answered, “ I don’t feel like I have the same drive as I did as an athlete in business. I don’t know why. I am much more relaxed about it. I realized that we’re all chasing work life balance. I think we’re wanting to find that sweet spot where we’re happy in our homes. I’m just really well balanced and, things, certain aspects, could be better, like business could be better but it would mean that I could have to take away from family time or my lifestyle which I’m not prepared to sacrifice or my health and so it grows slower rate and I’m okay with that.”
We talked about life in Finland and what it means to her. When asked about how her life reflects the Finnish Lifestyle. “ We have a really strong Finnish connection obviously Lauri is Finnish he’s only ever spoken Finnish to the boys so they’re completely fluent. We go back there a couple of times a year or mummu (granny) and vaari (granspa) come here if they can. And so we’re very close to Finland.”
“We have spent, a great deal of time in Finland, which I’m really happy about.Because it is such a beautiful and amazing culture Click To Tweet
. It is what it is, you get what you get and there’s no false pretences and the food is amazing I feel like Finnish people are so connected to nature as well. They go to their mokki (summer cottage) in the summertime and there’s no running water and foraging for mushrooms and catching fish in the lake. “
About living in Finland in the future?
When talking about Lydia’s house she has build with Lauri, we talked about the Finnish design and insulation that the builders in Austalian do not understand. “We designed everything from scratch and we’ve made sure that it was really energy efficient and built really well with a lot of kind of Scandinavian technologies. Especially the fireplace and with the oven inside.”
On her wish to live in Finland and experience the Finnish Lifestyle more. “ I’d like to live there. And probably not too far in the in the future actually so that the kids can go to school in Finland and experience where they are from, where they are half from as well. It would kind of make sense for them to go to school in Finland in that system as well. So it’s important for them to have those experiences and later on, they can choose they’ve got the choice then to decide where they want to live”
Talking About Cultural Differences and Similarities?
Talking about cultural differences and similarities Lydia said, “ When I think back to Lauri and I who come from opposite ends of the world and when we met,we found so much in common. Click To Tweet
The general consensus is that Ozzy’s are pretty laid back they kind of say what they think and I think that’s very similar to the Finns.”
How Australia Can Do Better in Recycling
When I asked about the recycling in Australian versus Finland as this is one of the major headaches for those who come from there, “ Yeah, it’s one of the frustrating things, when we spend so much time in Finland, and you seehow well that their recycling system is Click To Tweet
You could go to the supermarket, you could take your wine bottles and your beer bottles and know that when you put that in the machine that that bottle is going to get recycled seven times over, reused. Whereas here, we’re still throwing them into yellow bins and they getting broken and who knows what’s actually happening. I mean, I heard that they were getting shipped in containers over to China?”
“In Finland, you go back, you put a wine bottle in, you get a euro back. So everyone makes sure they do it because you will do that for a euro because you’ll get your you’re putting that bottle back into the system, it’s going to get reuse there’s incentive to do them. The system is in place, whereas with half assed it here in Australia, let’s say we have recycling, and we’re putting them in these yellow beans and trying to do the right thing. Then our stuff is going rubbish is going into a container to China who have now said no more. So it stinks, I’m upset about it and all the things that are politically discussed, that should be a priority. Like I agree, one of the major priorities if we do want it, we’re talking so much about global warming, and then environment and trying to protect it and we can’t even cycle so it’s a joke.”
What Would Lydia Bring Back from Finland?
Lydia laughs and says“The Education.” Click To Tweet
She also explains about her love for Finish food. “Kanttarelli (chantarel), Korvasieni (morel mushroom), ruis leipa (rye bread), is what she brings in her suitcase. She has also just found a European drinks exporter and ordered lonkero (gin long drink). She laughs that her husband brings all the salmiakki in his suitcase (salter licorice).
Do you have any Christmas things that you do with your family which are kind of connected to your Nordic roots?
“Christmas doesn’t really feel that Christmas anymore in Australia to me. So many white Christmases and this Christmas is the first in five years that we will be spending here so because we’re doing renovation downstairs and we need to stay here for Christmas. We will have our traditional Christmas feast which is silli (herring) and plenty of kinkku (christmas ham) graavi lohi (gravlax) and I wish I could bring some uusi peruna (new potatoes) from Finland. We will have the traditional Christmas and have some potato or swede casserole (peruna or lanttu laatikko).” Lydia adds that her favourite is all the seafood as it works well with the hot climate. She tries to keep her Christmas pretty Scandi with tontty (elfs) around the house.
When asked where she sees her in five years time?
Lydia says “ We could still be in Finland, or we could still be here but all I know is that that wherever we are, we’ll have a really good time. In Finland we would have a different but similar kind of approach. The lakes and the forest and, kids in a Finnish school. Being kind of immersed in, the Finnish culture a little bit more, so they were already but to live there, it’s different and to go to school there, it’s, different experience for them. So, so we want to be able to give them that but in five years, who knows.”
Advice to Families Who Are Bilingual
“Definitely keep the language going. So Late has been really amazing in making sure that he speaks only Finnish to the kids and they will respond only in Finnish back to him because of that.so language is gift, it's a free gift. Click To Tweet
Traveling to that connect to that place of connection is important. And making sure that you make the effort to make the trips and figure out how to do that. “
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