Polaris Terrain Domination is not restricted to the snowbelt, as snocross racer and snowmobile freestyle champion Levi LaVallee proved on New Year’s Eve when he soared 412 feet, 6 inches, on a Polaris IQ® Race Sled to set a new world record for snowmobile distance jumping.
LaVallee soared to the record during a Red Bull-sponsored event staged at Embarcadero Marine Park in San Diego. LaVallee flew across the park’s salt water channel alongside motocross rider Robbie Maddison, who flew 378’, 9”.
LaVallee’s jump was actually the longest in the history of all motorsports categories as it beat the current motorcycle jump distance mark of 390’, 4”, set in 2008 by Ryan Capes. LaVallee’s previous snowmobile jump record of 361’ was already far beyond the record jump distances for ATVs (176’, 11”) and cars (332’).
After successfully landing the epic jump on the race-tuned Polaris sled, LaVallee was understandably ecstatic. He hadn’t just covered 412 feet, he had completed a year-long journey of recovery from injuries suffered in a practice crash in December 2010.
LaVallee was originally scheduled to attempt a world record jump on New Year’s Eve 2010. Early practices for that event went well and he set a new snowmobile jump record at 361 feet. But LaVallee crashed hard on a later practice jump. Both lungs collapsed and he suffered a fractured pelvis and multiple broken ribs. He missed the 2010-2011 snocross racing season, worked through grueling physical rehab, then immersed himself in intense physical training to prepare for the jump on December 31, 2011.
After completing the record-setting jump, LaVallee explained why he worked so hard to complete the project: “To me, it was an open book. It was something I had to overcome, otherwise it was going to haunt me for the rest of my life. To be here today and land an over-400-foot jump, you can’t make it any better. I can finally close this chapter of my life that started over a year ago.”
He went to San Diego hopeful of setting a record, but he and Maddison faced a large collection of unknowns, including fog that rolled in off the ocean just before they jumped.
“I was just excited to make it to the other side in one piece,” LaVallee said. “I’m exploding with energy right now. When I saw the 410 marker go by, I knew it was going to be an amazing jump.”
The Sled and The Man
LaVallee made the jump on a Polaris IQ Race Sled, the sled on which snocross racers all across North America collect checkered flags and championships. The sled is powered by an 800 CleanFire SDI engine, which delivers incredible acceleration and best-in-class top speeds. The same engine is used in numerous Polaris production sleds for enthusiasts who ride everywhere from the trails of the Northeast to the Rocky Mountains. The sled also features the patented Polaris Independent Front Suspension (IFS), the same front suspension found on Polaris RUSH and Switchback models.
LaVallee, 29, is from Longville, Minnesota. He is a lifelong motorsports enthusiast and has achieved his greatest success on Polaris sleds in snocross racing and snowmobile freestyle events. He won the 2008-2009 ISOC snocross racing circuit Pro Stock points championship and now has his own race team, Team LaVallee (www.teamlavallee.com). He has qualified to compete in several ESPN Winter X Games and has earned four medals in multiple snowmobile disciplines at the games.
He gained the broadest exposure at the 2009 games, when he was the first rider ever to attempt a double backflip on a snowmobile in competition. He completed both revolutions but was bucked off the sled upon landing and wasn’t credited with completing the jump. Still, no other rider has ever even tried it.
LaVallee is expected to compete in the balance of this winter’s ISOC snocross events, and he has been invited to compete at the 2012 Winter X Games, January 26-29.
Videos from the “2011 Red Bull: New Year. No Limits” event at which LaVallee set the jump distance record are available here: www.redbullusa.com.