As crowds made their way from the San Diego Convention Center boardwalk down to Embarcadero Marina Park in San Diego Harbor Saturday, December 31, there was increasing buzz about whether Robbie Maddison and Levi LaVallee would be able to complete the overwhelmingly daunting 300-plus foot jump across harbor waters due to extremely foggy conditions. That theory was soon put to the test, as the two completed the goal and then some, breaking record distance jumps. ESPN was broadcasting live and caught the historical event on camera, documenting Maddison as he broke his previous record of 351 feet, 3 inches with a new record of 378 feet, 9 inches, and Lavallee’s new world record for a snowmobile at 412 feet, 6 inches. Cheers erupted from an energetic mass of hundreds of onlookers in San Diego, who were on scene to support the athletes while ushering in the New Year in the Red Bull VIP tent and from various vantage points throughout the harbor park. Several big screens were set up throughout the park, allowing fans to watch the athletes via ESPN’s broadcast as they prepared from across the harbor before taking the final jump over 300 feet of water. As LaVallee and Maddison became visible through the fog a little past 9 p.m. Pacific Time, the audience waiting on the other side went crazy. The athletes were greeted by media, friends, and family, as fans raised their drinks to a spectacular show and welcomed in a New Year.
Photos: © Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool
“I’m as excited as I think a person can be,” said LaVallee. “I just landed an over 400-foot jump. I’m not sure how the sled’s doing, but I’m okay, so it was good. It’s an amazing feeling. You have no idea how pumped I am.”
Maddison said, “It’s a cool feeling to do what I do and have the backing I do. I was confident we were going to go a long way tonight and we're going to come back and go even further.”
Watch the scientific breakdown of what happened Saturday evening in San Diego:
After being injured during practice for the 2010 event, LaVallee made his successful comeback this year alongside three-time Red Bull: New Year. No Limits. veteran Maddison, who began the series in 2007 with a record-setting football field jump. He then returned in 2008 to jump up to and off of the Arc de Triomphe at Paris Las Vegas while Rhys Millen backflipped an off-road truck. In 2009, Travis Pastrana jumped his rally car 269 feet, setting a new distance record while landing on a barge in Long Beach's Rainbow Harbor.
A successful SnoCross racer also recognized for his freestyle double-backflip – a first on a snowmobile – at Winter X Games 13, LaVallee is a seven-time Winter X Games medalist. The only athlete to compete in all seven non-adaptive snowmobile disciplines, LaVallee excels in both Freestyle disciplines and SnoCross racing. Focusing on rally car racing recently, Maddison is best known for his record-setting jumps during Red Bull: New Year. No Limits. events and is widely recognized and respected as a top freestyle motocross athlete.
Red Bull: New Year. No Limits. re-airs tomorrow, Jan. 1 on ESPN2 at 12:30 a.m. ET.