In Part 2 of our update with snowmobile racing and freestyle champ Levi LaVallee, we focus on the freestyle side, delving deeper into his double backflip and getting the lowdown on his private training facility. If you missed Part 1, check it out here.
How do Snocross wins compare to freestyle wins?
For me, the Snocross is more satisfying. I train for months leading up to the season, there are countless hours of testing, practicing – it seems like a lot more goes into being competitive in racing. Don’t get me wrong – the freestyle stuff, especially in the last couple of years, has really been getting out of hand. It’s getting harder for me to be a multi-sport guy because these guys are just pushing things so far.
Going into Winter X Games ’09, how confident were you that you could land the double backflip?
I knew I was capable of getting it around – that’s all I knew [laughs]. I practiced into the foam pit a bunch and I was getting it around, but right before we left for Aspen I tried it on snow at my house and wiped out super hard. We didn’t have time to straighten out the sled and give it another go, so we packed up and headed out there. So that crash was the last thing in my mind; I had a lot of different emotions going through my head at that time. I just kept telling myself, “You know it’s possible, you know you can rotate it, just stay focused, do the things you know how to do and pray that it works.” I was able to at least rotate it and obviously overshot my landing by a fair amount and got spit off. I was still super satisfied just because it was very cool to show everyone that you can double flip a snowmobile.
So did your heel injury sideline your freestyle training for Winter X Games 2010?
Oh yeah, it sidelined everything. I didn’t ride anything for a long time. The first time I rode again was mid-November, and I start racing Thanksgiving weekend. After that race, I did a day or two of jumping and then I had another race. That’s the downfall of doing racing with freestyle - most of the freestyle guys are hitting ramps every day, and leading up to X Games, I had about a month to train for freestyle, and during that month I had two races. It makes it tough, but I’m hoping to have a better system set up for next year, and if I’m healthy that’ll help a lot as well.
Tell us about the set-up at your house.
I’ve got a foam pit, a freestyle set-up with two kickers and a 100-foot ramp, a woodchip track for riding Snocross in the summer or fall, a supercross track, a motocross track, a mini-bike track… The next thing would be getting a snow gun and a groomer; then I’d be set, I could do everything.
I’ve got a wheel kit for my sled so you can ride it on dirt or asphalt or whatever you want, and we’re going to rig up a radiator system so we can cool the machine as well. They use the snow to cool the machine in the winter, so if there’s no snow being thrown up on the heat exchangers to cool it down, it’ll overheat. We’ll have to come up with something to fix that.
Have you been concepting some new tricks for next season?
I have some cool ideas; everyone’s got cool ideas, but it’s not worth talking about until someone can see it, otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for failure. I’ve got some ideas and I’m definitely going to pursue them. I think they’re possible, but I don’t want to start claiming things until I do them.
What’s next for Levi LaVallee?
I just want to continue doing what I’m doing. I have so much fun being able to be competitive in both racing and freestyle; I get to do all these different events that I just enjoy so much. I really enjoy tackling things, like the double flip, for instance. It was scary as heck, but it was fun breaking that trick down and figuring out how to do it. That just opened my mind up; if you sit down and think things through and really apply yourself, you can do some pretty amazing things. It’s opened the door for me to all these different ideas; hopefully I can make them happen in the next couple of years.