Oakley Snowmobilers Bring Home Five Winter X 17 Medals
The Winter X Games in Aspen is a week stocked full of some of the most talented action sports athletes in the world, stunning athleticism and high intensity tricks that are simply incomprehensible to the average human being. This could not be truer than across the snowmobile disciplines. These riders hit jumps in excess of 30 feet, ride at speeds nearing 60 mph, contort their bodies mid-air and do it all on machines weighing in the neighborhood of 500 pounds.
Kicking X Games off on a high note was Levi LaValle, who captured the games’ first gold medal in the Snowmobile Freestyle Final. Competing in his first Winter X Games since 2010 due to injury, he won a hard fought battle with competitor Joe Parsons for the top podium position launching solid combinations, including a huge kiss-of-death flip to narrowly conclude with the win.
Levi wasn’t done there however, in the snowmobile Speed & Style events he proved that he could not only throw massive, stylized tricks like the best of them, but that he could outpace the field at the same time; including Oakley teammate Cory Davis, who eventually joined Levi on the podium with the silver medal to complete the old one-two-punch.
“This is the most challenging X Games Speed & Style I’ve ever competed in,” remarked Cory. “Everyone was crushing it.”
After the race Levi, admitted that Cory had given him a run for his money, “Hats off to Cory for charging the whole time,” said Levi. “I’m happy I put down a solid run and came out on top to win gold again.”
Levi was on fire and preparing to double his WX 17 gold medal count in the highly anticipated snowmobile SnoCross and Best Trick events, but ultimately he suffered a torn muscle in his back that would prevent him from competing in any additional events.
“I will not be able to continue on," LaVallee wrote on his Facebook page. “The Doc said if I push it, I could end up in a bad place. Thank you all for the amazing support that helped me bring home two gold medals!”
Now while we and just about every other snowmobile enthusiast would have loved to see Levi continue on his rampage, we’re happy that he put his heath first and look forward to seeing him pick up where he left off once he is healed.
Just because Levi was out however, didn’t mean that the snowmobile SnoCross race was any less intensely competitive. Seven-time event gold medalist and the WX 17 SnoCross gold medalist, Tucker Hibbert, set a punishing pace for his competitors. Fortunately, for Canadian rider Tim Tremblay, he was up to the challenge. Tim had lead throughout most of his qualifying heats and ultimately secured the bronze medal in the event final.
“After three visits to X Games I finally made it on the podium thanks to a good start,” said Tim. “I left the box in third and was able to hold onto it all race long.” A feat that should not be underestimated considering the depth of the SnoCross field as well as the fact that Tim’s engine was threatening to go out on his last two laps. “I had to ease up on the throttle,” confided Tim after the race. “But I made it through.”
The final snowmobile event of the games is always a fan favorite and on the closing evening of Winter X Games 17 the Snowmobile Best Trick event did not disappoint. Riders, including Oakley’s own Heath Frisby, unleashed three never before seen tricks throughout the event earning two of those three riders a spot on the podium. While Joe Parson’s was disappointed with the judges scoring of his newly minted Gator Hater, he did end up taking home the silver medal. For Heath’s debut of the Undeflip, he scored a competitive 89 points to Daniel Bodin’s gold medal caliber 92.33 to earn bronze.
“I didn’t finish where I wanted to be,” said Heath. “I tried to take it to the next level and didn’t get the scores I was looking for…I feel like did the best that I could do.”
Always looking to progress and push the boundaries of what is possible certainly makes for an exciting show and keeps action sports in constant evolution. However, such progression is not without risk and often comes with great sacrifice. Amidst the celebration of all the success of Oakley’s snowmobilers there is also a need for humble reverence and appreciation for their safety especially as one of their comrades, Caleb Moore, passed away as a result of the injuries sustained in a crash during the Snowmobile Freestyle event on the opening night of the games. Our thoughts are with the family, friends and fans of Caleb. To help defray the medical costs, a website has been set up for the family.