Most of the Red Bull New Year. No Limits. post event chatter is being directed towards the record breaking distance Levi LaVallee flew his sled, or the heavy San Diego fog which made the jump an impossible viewing experience or whether or not Robbie Maddison’s record was the “official” distance or not.
The truth is none of those talking points really matter as the night was all about one thing; redemption. LaVallee endured a life-threatening crash in practice that led to the cancellation of the 2010 New Year’s Eve event. A faulty clutch resulted in multiple injuries including collapsed lungs, a broken pelvis, cracked ribs and a major concussion.
Only a year later LaVallee sat on the same sled starring at the identical ramp with the same obstacles he faced when he suffered a life-threatening crash. One of the most difficult challenges a person can face in life is overcoming the mental hurdle of fear; you know that negative sensation induced by a perceived threat.
For LaVallee this years event was a shot at personal redemption. He set out to prove to himself last year was a fluke, and that he believed in his ability as an athlete. “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.”
The night wasn’t just about LaVallee but the people who believed in him enough to get behind him for yet another attempt at setting the world-record. One can only imagine what Levi’s family was thinking as he raced towards the launch ramp. Maybe it was a positive the fog was so thick making it difficult for the family to watch. The family held hands as their eyes stayed locked on the landing ramp praying for a successful and safe landing from the same man they helped nurse back to good health a year ago to get to this point. The feeling of joy and relief was as loud as the screams they let out when LaValle crushed his previous distance record by 51 feet.
Not to be forgotten are the people at Red Bull who invested plenty of time and money around Levi’s quest for redemption. For those who dedicated their time and efforts towards seeing Levi overcome his fear, this new years eve was as satisfying as it gets. Head of Red Bull National and Motorsports Communications Jordan Miller summed up what everyone who was involved collectively thought as Levi accomplished his goal, “Epic, we’re so proud of you.”
Here’s a glimpse into what the jump looked like from Levi’s perspective.