Life After the Double Back

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New Oakley athlete Levi LaVallee flipped his 450-pound red Polaris snowmobile twice Friday night and he ran away with arms raised.

“I came into this X Games with one thing in mind: I came in to do the double backflip.”

The stunning spectacle of the trick was not diminished by the fact he rotated past the ramp’s transition and cratered his landing, erasing any hope for a medal. But Friday night’s main attraction, a 21-year-old Minnesotan spinning his snowmobile twice, delivered the thrills.

“I committed to it and went a little long. I was pumped I was able to get that second one around,” LaVallee said. “Now we know the double backflip is possible and I think it won’t be long before someone sticks it.”

Alaska’s Dane Ferguson won the next trick gold medal with a whipping backflip he named the Twist Off in honor of a friend who died in an avalanche last winter.

“Now I know a double backflip can be done,” Ferguson said to LaVallee after the four-racer contest. “Thanks for the knowledge.”

LaVallee spent most of Friday moving the 13-foot tall, 63-degree ramp further away from the tabletop landing. It ended up around 65 feet away from the landing’s transition. Judging by how far LaVallee spun beyond the landing, the ramp could have been further.

Ever since LaVallee announced he was ready for the first double back earlier this week, the X Games has buzzed with anticipation.

“It’s been a really stressful time but the really funny thing is once I got up on the line, I don’t know what it was but I got jacked up and said ’I’m doing this thing right now,’ " LaVallee said.

LaVallee had only landed the trick in a foam pit – a swimming pool-sized container of foam blocks used by tricksters to hone tricks.

The first rotation had to happen quickly. The second just plain had to happen.

“It seems like it takes forever for that second rotation to come around,” he said. “I could see the ground after the first one and thought ‘I think I have time for the second.’ I tucked my head and pinned it.”

Author

Tess Weaver

Date

January 25, 2009