re-sized Levi LaVallee and Robbie Maddison celebrating New Year's Eve Red Bull style

Breaking records on the eve of a new year

Snowmobiler Levi LaVallee and motorcyclist Robbie Maddison rode their respective vehicles into the history books when they launched themselves off a ramp and over a body of water at the Embarcadero Marina Park in San Diego, California, at the 2011 Red Bull: New Year No Limits event.

Red Bull: No Limits

photo courtesy of Justin Kosman/Red Bull

The stunt was special in that the two vehicles launched at the same time which required practice, fine-timing and nerves of steel. Talking about it beforehand, LaVallee said “It will be a lot different. Typically it’s like, “OK, go now” and within a couple of seconds you take off — you have a little leeway. With this, when they say “Go” … you move. We are going to be practicing that, and hopefully we can get it where we have the right start times and we’re in the air at the same time. That’s where the second problem starts: You’re in the air and you look over and “Holy moly, there’s a dirt bike flying next to me!” Being in the air and seeing Maddo jumping ridiculously far on a dirtbike next to me and not veering over, that will be a pretty intense moment, that’s for sure.”

LaVallee jumped over 412 feet on his 45-pound plus, modified snowmobile equipped to handle the snow-less ramp. Maddison jumped over 378 feet. The crowd went ballistic as LaVallee broke the world record for his discipline and Maddison came close. Both landed safely.

Minnesotan Levi LaVallee, 29-years old, first came to the public’s notice at the Winter X games in 2008 where he secured his first gold. In the 2009 X-Games, he upped the ante and became the first person to try a double backflip on a snowmobile. He wasn’t successful but that didn’t stop him trying something even more stupendous in 2010 – he planned to launch his snowmobile into a jump  in excess of 361 feet. This feat was unsuccessful and resulted in multiple broken bones and a punctured lung, but undaunted, he was back and fighting fit with every intention of beating his own distance record on New Year’s Eve, 2011. And beat it he did…

“I was just excited to make it to the other side in one piece. I’m exploding with energy right now,” LaVallee said. “When I saw the 410 marker go by, I knew it was going to be an amazing jump.”

Australian daredevil Robbie Maddison jumped 378 ft 9 inches on the night, failing to beat the current record of 391 ft. However, and this must be particularly frustrating for him, he unofficially broke that record on a practice run earlier in the day when he achieved a 392 ft jump. At 30 years of age, he is well known for his ability to pull off the most incredible stunts. As well as being a frequent participator at the X-Games, his more outrageous stunts include jumping football fields and a 96-foot tall building in Vegas, as well as backflipping across the Tower Bridge in London.

Foggy weather caused some concern prior to the jumps, especially for Maddison’s motorcycle in-run. Course workers had to lay tarps on the ramp so he could get enough traction to accelerate to the necessary speeds, upwards of 100 miles an hour. After the jump, Maddison said he didn’t think the weather affected the jump at all.

“I would have liked to have gone further, but I am just happy to have landed safely on the other side. There was a lot of pressure and to be able to live to do this again feels great. I’m at a point where I need to make changes to my bike and I’m going to have to find a gnarlier gap to jump over,” he said.

His exploits are not over yet…

And as for LaVallee? He’ll certainly be back at the 2012 X-Games. “I’m glad that snowmobiles are still involved with the X Games, and it is going to be fun because the freestyle guys are going to embrace the fact that they are the main show as far as snowmobiling is concerned. It’s going to be fun seeing what everyone brings to the table,” he told ESPN.

Watch this space!

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