Levi LaVallee definitely remembers putting on his gear. The snowmobiler is pretty sure he ran through his normal checklist while attempting a distance jump, because it’s a ticktock he does by instinct: study the crosswinds, focus on the ramp, ready the brake in case the nose of the sled kicks up.
But the next thing he truly remembers is waking up in the hospital with tubes in both of his collapsed lungs, a broken pelvis, a concussion, cracked ribs, three fractured vertebrae, and his family hovering by his bedside.
It was three days later.
During practice for the 2010 Red Bull: New Year. No Limits. event, LaVallee set the world record for a distance jump on a snowmobile: 361 feet. Later that night, he attempted another practice run -- this time, the carburetor glitched out, sending him tumbling several hundred feet at over 100 mph. The sled slammed into the ramp, then ricocheted 200 feet in the air before landing.
Daredevils like Maddison and LaVallee are wired differently.
This year, LaVallee is back to attempt the jump again, alongside Red Bull: New Year. No Limits. veteran Robbie Maddison, who is currently recovering from a crash during Red Bull X-Fighters practice that busted a disc in his back, punctured his lung, and gave him his second concussion in three months.
Maddison will be going for his own distance record -- 400 feet -- on his motorcycle as the two riders jump concurrently over the embarcadero on San Diego’s waterfront. The event will air live on the evening of Dec. 31 on ESPN.
It may seem like madness for two busted-up guys to try and reset their own world records -- but as many observers may suspect, daredevils like Maddison and LaVallee are wired a bit differently.
Check out the January 2012 issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands December 13) for more of the article. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.