Harder Than It Looks

Published in the October 2010 Issue Sledheads Ryan Harris

Freestyle riders have done a great job at making something very difficult look extremely easy. Maybe it's the repetitive nature of ramp jumping; maybe it's the SoCal bro reputation that has followed the segment of freeride sledding. However you look at it, many of the guys involved in freestyle don't get the credit or respect they deserve from the mainstream snowmobiling world.

Take Heath Frisby. Sure, you've seen him hitting ramps in countless DVDs, caught him at a freestyle show or heard his name now that Winter X Games 14 is over. But what you may not know is how hard Frisby worked to get to the top spot at Winter X's Best Trick competition.

Frisby had to bring something special to Winter X. He worked on his set of tricks at the Sherbine farm in Montana, going ramp-to-snow over and over. And by "snow," I mean a huge dirt pile with a couple inches of white stuff thrown on it. Frisby has possibly the smoothest form of any freestyle athlete (regardless of discipline). But that doesn't really matter during practice. One screw-up, and the pain hurts just as much for him as it does for the guys who aren't so good.

Frisby packed up his ramp, his two Ski-Doos and all his gear (into one trailer.) and drove from Montana to California.

Why would a freestyle snowmobiler-weeks away from the event of the season-pack up and go where the sun shines but the snow don't fall?

Red Bull's compound is located near Wyvern in southern California. Frisby, a Red Bull rider, was granted full access to the compound and its mammoth foam pit. It's the same foam pit that Travis Pastrana practiced his 720 for this summer's X Games.

Frisby launched his MX-Z into the pit several times, building up to full-extensions of the tsunami back flip. One send into the pit went awry in the air, and Frisby went into the pit just in front of his sled, which landed sideways and upside-down. White smoke immediately began to billow out of the pile 1-foot by 1-foot blocks of gray foam. Frisby's crew got him out quickly and safely, but the smoke soon turned into flames, and the entire pit was engulfed in a Hollywood-style blaze seconds later. Frisby was un-injured in the event, though his sled burned so badly it left only the steel components lying in the bottom of the pit.

Shaken, Frisby took some time off back home in Idaho before returning to the air back at Sherbine Farms. With very little time left to prepare, Frisby worked in as much practice and training time as possible leading up to January's Winter X Games in Colorado.

The rest of the story played out on television. Frisby made it into the final round with a super-clean, fully-extended tsunami back flip. He jumped into gold medal position over Daniel Bodine and Levi LaVallee with a full-extension Indian air back flip, taking home his first-ever gold medal from Winter X Games (Frisby's journey to X Games gold is fully-documented in Slednecks 13, available on DVD).
His gold medal earned him fame among ESPN's action sports TV base, but the rough ride he took to get there earns him the respect he deserves from the rest of us.

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