LaVallee set to try double back flip on snowmobile | AspenTimes.com

LaVallee set to try double back flip on snowmobile

Pat Graham
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Levi LaVallee, of Longville, MN sits on his snowmobile at the Winter X Games 13 at Buttermilk Ski Area, near Aspen, Colo. on Thursday, Jan., 22, 2009. Snowmobile Next Trick practice was canceled today, where LaVallee will through a double back flip. (AP Photo/Nathan Bilow)
AP | FR37383 AP

ASPEN ” Snowmobiler Levi LaVallee has gone flippin’ mad.

He’s consumed with mastering a double back flip on his 450-pound Polaris, treating the trick like a science project as he tries to solve all the variables.

“Just a big physics test, more than anything,” said the 26-year-old from Longville, Minn.

LaVallee has cracked the gutsy feat before, even landing his snowmobile safely a time or two.

Back home. In a foam pit. With few eyes watching.

Still, he’s primed to unveil the maneuver for the world Friday night during snowmobile’s next trick competition at the Aspen Winter X Games at Buttermilk.

Unless he suddenly gets a bad vibe about the double back flip.

“If everything is comfortable and the sled’s working good, and everything feels good, we might just see it,” he said, winking.

Nervous?

“No time,” he said.

That’s because LaVallee is competing in four different disciplines at the X Games. He lost his title to Joe Parsons in the speed and style competition on Thursday night, taking second.

LaVallee is also scheduled to take part in snowmobile’s snocross and freestyle, along with next trick.

“I’ve already prepared for these events beforehand, so I know that I’m ready to go,” said LaVallee, who’s the reigning Winter X Games champion in the freestyle. “Now, it’s just go out and do it.”

The double back flip idea was hatched after watching dirt bike riders execute the maneuver.

If they can do it, why not him on a sled?

The first attempt didn’t go so well. The ramp was all wrong. He needed the angle steeper, and began wondering at one point if the trick was possible on a snowmobile.

LaVallee made modifications to his sled, helping him get the height he required. Then came conquering the fear ” even attempting the trick into foam padding was daunting.

“The first ones were scary,” said LaVallee, who’s known as Launchin’ Levi on the circuit. “Now I’ve done enough of them where I’m starting to feel more comfortable.”

Every time he takes off toward the ramp, one last thought flies through his mind.

“I hope I don’t wind up underneath this big thing,” LaVallee said. “It’s coming around pretty good in the pit. But there’s a big difference from pit to snow.”

LaVallee has been flipping anything with a motor most of his life. He’s also done flips with a dirt bike and on an all-terrain vehicle. The ATV stunt came with a little enticement from friend Travis Pastrana, who’s also known for his flips, only on a motorcycle.

Last summer, though, LaVallee took the art of flipping to a new platform. Serving as his town’s grand marshal for the Fourth of July parade, he built a float with a ramp on it, doing aerial maneuvers with his motorbike along the entire route.

Naturally, he won best float.

LaVallee is at home on a snowmobile, riding with his father since he was a kid. He bought his first one when he was 12 with money he saved from bagging groceries.

He even rode his sled to school when there was snow.

“The principal would let me store my gear in his office,” said LaVallee, a workout fiend who can be found in the gym six days a week. “It has evolved from there.”

To the point where he’s now trying to perfect the double flip.

To pull off the endeavor, he needs good lift, a nice, solid tuck and a dose of good fortune.

For the luck portion, LaVallee has a “charmed” shirt, one that he’s worn at competitions since he was 12. It’s actually too tattered to wear now, so he wraps a piece of it around a lucky coin his father gave him, then sticks it in his pocket.

“I’ll definitely be running with the lucky shirt,” he said.

There’s no trick out of bounds for LaVallee. Down the road, he may even try to channel his inner Evel Knievel and do something even more daring than a double back flip.

“Don’t count it out,” he said, grinning. “I have some real open-minded people surrounding me. They will allow me to do a lot of things.”

For complete coverage of Winter X Games 13, go to http://www.aspentimes.com/xgames.


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