Hey everyone. I am pumped to be writing this and can honestly say this is the best I have felt in years.
Most of you may have heard I was supposed to do the Red Bull: New Year, No Limits event on New Year’s Eve last year. You may have also heard that I crashed while practicing for the jump. I was practicing to do a world record distance jump on a snowmobile and things were going fairly well up until things went sort of bad. Ha ha -105 mph, 360-foot endo, cracked pelvis, two collapsed lungs, three fractured vertebra and more broken ribs than you get in a full rack of ribs at Famous Dave’s—sort of bad.
We were out for our last practice session before packing things up and heading for San Diego to do the live show. Things had been going awesome. I was jumping very consistently and the Red Bull crew was amazing, getting the whole setup dialed in so it was perfect. Glenn Kafka, Jeff Leffel and Mario Panagiotopoulos worked countless hours making sure the sled was ready to go for every jump.
The last day I was able to jump over 300 feet a handful of times, with the longest being 361 feet. It was such a crazy feeling hitting a ramp at more than 100 mph and even more nutty sailing a sled over 300 feet. Up until this year I had never done any distance jumping so I was pumped things were going well.
As the day was winding down, we took a break before going for a jump under the lights, which would be the last jump of testing before doing it on New Year’s. I got suited up again and got ready to do the jump. I took off, ripping toward the ramp and as I came off the ramp, things were looking very promising. I looked good in the air and I hit the ramp at almost 2 mph faster than my previous best.
As you reach your highest point in your jump you need to bring the front end down so it cuts through the wind and doesn’t get the sled all crossed up before landing. I grabbed the brake to bring the front end down and then when I gassed it to keep the front end from going too far, the engine gurgled and didn’t pick back up. We had problems with carburetion in our early jumps but we thought we had the problem solved.
I guess not.
As the sled began to endo I started planning my exit. Imagine the combination of you walking out onto a deck on the upper level of a five-story house, except someone forgot to tell you they hadn’t put the deck on yet and jumping out of a car that was going more than 100 mph. Ha. That was my exit. My body landed flat on my side and then bounced more than 100 feet on the first bounce. Then I found my way to my head and eventually to my side where I began doing the “stop, drop and roll” program they taught us as kids if you caught on fire.
The sled on the other hand took more of a gymnastics approach and did some very impressive flips and twists about 200 feet through the air.
I spent a week in the hospital and because I collapsed both my lungs, they wouldn’t let me fly home because my lungs wouldn’t handle it when they pressurized the plane or something. So Red Bull rented a motorhome to get me from California back home to Minnesota.
For the next few weeks I hung out in the recliner, drooling on myself from the pain pills I was on. Ha ha. After about a month I was cleared to walk without the walker so I headed out to Winter X to cheer on my team. I sat on the sidelines like a proud parent as Daniel Bodin did awesome in freestyle and best trick, winning two gold medals for Team LaVallee.
The next big moment for me came a month and a half after X. I got back on my sled and ripped on a snocross track. Well ripped wasn’t exactly what I did, but I was out on the track jumping and riding … but in slow motion. Ha ha. It felt amazing being back on the sled.
One of the biggest things I noticed was how little my bad foot hurt. I had been really struggling for the last couple years with my foot/ankle after breaking my heel in ‘09. I think because I had all winter away from snocross because of my distance jump crash, it allowed my foot to heal up and now I can use my foot like normal.
For two years I couldn’t lift myself off the ground with my bad foot so I couldn’t wakeboard, dirt bike and when I did ride sleds it would hurt something fierce. Now I am back dirt biking, wakeboarding and training like I did prior to breaking my heel in May of 2009. Which I am super excited to say.
In the end I would have loved to do the distance jump on New Years Eve and it bummed me out big time missing it. But had I not crashed I know my foot wouldn’t have healed up and I most likely would have had surgery for the third summer in a row on it so there was a huge positive that came from the crash.
The best part is that Red Bull asked me if I wanted to do it again for Red Bull: New Year, No Limits. I said, “Well, um. HECK YEAH, I’M IN!” I am so excited to be able to do it again and hopefully this time things will go a little more to plan.
Keep yourself posted by checking out www.teamlavallee.com