A year after suffering serious injuries while training for a high-profile New Year’s Eve jump, snocross and freestyle snowmobile rider Levi LaVallee is back in the saddle – and training for yet another distance jump record.
LaVallee, 29, of Longville, Minnesota, is a longtime favorite at the snocross tracks – earning the name “Launchin’ Levi” while racing in the Juniors and Sport classes in the late 1990s and growing into a media darling through the ESPN Winter X Games coverage. He was the Pro Stock WSA national champion in 2009, but has become better known for his high-flying freestyle stunts in recent years, including a double backflip at Winter X that same year.
Last year at this time, LaVallee was training for a planned high-profile distance jump live on ESPN when he suffered major injuries in a horrific crash. A normal guy might slow down after such injuries, but nobody has ever accused Levi of being normal!
In fact, he’s back and prepping for another high-profile jump. Here’s the press release from Red Bull.
RED BULL: NEW YEAR. NO LIMITS. CALL IT A COMEBACK
Levi LaVallee Returns from Injury to Attempt Record-Breaking Snowmobile Distance Jump
Robbie Maddison Returns After Two Years to Reclaim Motorcycle Distance Jump Record
On New Year’s Eve, Live from San Diego on ESPN
Santa Monica, Calif. (November 16, 2011) – A motorcycle and a snowmobile walk into a bar…Well, not quite, but not too different, as a motorcycle and a snowmobile will simultaneously fly over water in the latest installment of Red Bull: New Year. No Limits. This year will bring together two incredible athletes who have found their way back to the annual New Year’s Eve celebration via different paths. The event will air live from San Diego, Calif., on Saturday, December 31 at approximately 11 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. PT on ESPN, ESPNHD and ESPN3, immediately following the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
Levi LaVallee has fully recovered from a crash while training for the same event last year, just hours after shattering the world record with a leap of 361 feet on a snowmobile. Robbie Maddison kick-started the series in 2007 by jumping his motorcycle 322 feet over a football field in Las Vegas and followed it up in 2008 by jumping onto – and off – the 96-foot-tall Arc De Triomphe at Paris Las Vegas.
This year, LaVallee, a 28-year-old native of Longville, Minn., will jump his snowmobile alongside Maddison, a 30-year-old Aussie now living in Temecula, Calif., who will pilot his motorcycle as both athletes concurrently jump over 300 feet of water from the North park to the South park at the Embarcadero Marina Park in the downtown area of San Diego Bay. LaVallee will attempt to break his own record of 361 feet and Maddison will be aiming for a leap of more than 400 feet to eclipse the current record of 391 feet.
On-site viewing will be free to spectators at both parks. Gates will open at 6 p.m. PT.
“I am so pumped to be able to come back to Red Bull: New Year. No Limits.,” said LaVallee. “Last year obviously didn’t go the way I was hoping, and I am excited to have another chance at this amazing opportunity.”
“Jumping long distances is a passion of mine, and I’m excited to come back for New Years Eve and sail over San Diego Harbor,” said Maddison. “400 feet is my goal. It’s not all about getting the world record to me, it’s more about understanding this feat and the commitment ahead to achieving what most would consider an impossible jump.”
LaVallee is a seven-time Winter X Games medalist and champion snocross racer. He is widely known for becoming the first person to double backflip a snowmobile in 2009 at Winter X Games. San Diego may not be the first place that comes to mind when discussing snowmobiles, but the lack of snow won’t hinder LaVallee, who will use artificial turf on his run-up path, which will provide the necessary grip for his snowmobile’s track to ensure maximum speed as he hits the take-off ramp.
Maddison boasts accomplished freestyle motocross career, with an X Games silver medal in 2010 in Moto X Best Trick and two wins on the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour (Calgary 2009 and Madrid 2010). He also has a successful history of record-breaking achievements and globally captivating feats. Among them are backflipping across the Tower Bridge in London and clearing the Cornith Canal in Greece, to go with his previous New Year’s Eve successes.
Red Bull’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration highlights extraordinary athletes pushing their physical, mental and technical limits to break boundaries and records. Leading up to their big night, LaVallee and Maddison will work with Red Bull’s athlete performance experts, physicists and engineers, in addition to their core teams, in an effort to get the most out of their bodies and machines. Valuable information will also be attained and put into future technological development.
After last year’s unfortunate cancellation, this will be the fourth Red Bull: New Year. No Limits. event in the last five years. In 2008, the year Maddison went up and off the Arc de Triomphe, Rhys Millen backflipped an off-road truck and just missed sticking the landing. In 2009, Travis Pastrana jumped his rally car a staggering 269 feet over water, landing on a barge in Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor.