Levi LaVallee injury halts jump
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Snowmobile champion Levi LaVallee's practice injury while preparing for ESPN's "Red Bull: New Year. No Limits." have forced the event to be cancelled. LaVallee, seven-time Winter X Games medalist in snowmobiling, was injured Tuesday while practicing for his world record distance jump for telecast, which was to take place in San Diego, Calif.
LaVallee was transported to a Southern California hospital where he is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.
LaVallee, 28, from Longville, Minn., worked with athlete performance and aerodynamics analysts and engineers leading up to the event. During testing, he jumped 361 feet, eclipsing the existing record of 301½ feet set by Paul Thacker in March 2009. The jump will be submitted for world record certification.
LaVallee was scheduled to jump his Polaris snowmobile over a 300-foot water gap at San Diego's Embarcadero Marina Park. He was training on the same type of ramp he had planned to use on New Year's Eve, and previous training sessions on a similar ramp and landing setup had taken place earlier this month without incident.
A snocross racer for more than 15 years, LaVallee took up freestyle in 2007, and at the 2008 Winter X Games, he won the gold medal in the Freestyle and Speed & Style events and was named Athlete of the Games. In 2009, he won the Pro Stock Snocross championship and attempted the first snowmobile double backflip at Winter X 13. Earlier this year, he took gold in the newly-created Snowmobile Knock Out event at Winter X 14.
LaVallee was to be the fourth athlete to star in Red Bull's annual New Year's Eve celebration. Robbie Maddison jumped his dirt bike 322 feet over a football field in Las Vegas in 2007 and followed it up in 2008 by jumping onto -- and off -- of the 96-foot-tall Arc De Triomphe at Paris Las Vegas. At that event, pro drifting racer Rhys Millen also attempted to back-flip his truck. Last year, Travis Pastrana jumped his rally car 269 feet over water, landing on a barge in Long Beach's Rainbow Harbor.