There are many exciting ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but it’s unlikely that anybody closed out 2011 as spectacularly as Levi LaVallee and Robbie Maddison, who on a foggy Saturday night set world records by soaring more than 350 feet across San Diego’s harbor, side-by-side, aboard a snowmobile and motorcycle. Though both were death-defying stunts worthy of admiration, the night belonged to LaVallee, 29, whose 412-foot snowmobile jump shattered the record he set last year by 51 feet (picture a snowmobile flying the length of a football field, and through both goal posts). “It’s an amazing feeling,” he said afterward. “You have no idea how pumped I am.”
Maddison, 30, a freestyle motocross icon who had hoped to jump a record 400 feet, touched down at 378 feet, 9 inches, breaking his existing certified world record of 351-3. He had hoped to surpass 400 feet but failed to hit the desired launching speed of 100-plus mph, perhaps because of soggy conditions. He seemed only mildly disappointed afterward, while posing afterward with his wife and young son, but vowed to continue “pushing myself as an athlete.”
Levi Lavallee and Robbie Maddison double the fun on New Years Eve in San Diego Photo: Chris Tedesco/ Red Bull
For LaVallee, however, the astonishing jump was sweet redemption. The 29-year-old was supposed to have been the star of the same “Red Bull: New Year. No Limits” extravaganza last year. But on the same mid-December night that he set a world record with a practice jump of 361 feet, he endured a life-threatening crash that led to the cancellation of the 2010 New Year’s Eve event. The accident was caused by a faulty clutch and LaVallee’s injuries included collapsed lungs, a broken pelvis, cracked ribs and a concussion.
On the last night of 2011, however, LaVallee enjoyed a clean running line and experienced no mechanical no issues during the jump or landing. Asked during the ESPN broadcast why he chose to attempt a feat that failed so painfully a year earlier, he answered:
“It was something I had to overcome, otherwise it was going to haunt me the rest of my life… After last year and being out I was like, ‘Man, you just missed out on the coolest opportunity. And to be here today and to be able to land an over 400-foot jump… you can’t make it any better.”
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