On Dec. 31, Levi LaVallee will attempt to break the world record snowmobile distance jump over Embarcadero Marina Park. The jump is the fourth installment of “Red Bull: New Year. No Limits,” a series that has shattered action sports records and challenged the realm of possibility each of the previous three years.
“This event has been a continued success as it has consistently pushed the limits of what is possible in the world of motorsports,” said Jordan Miller of Red Bull Communications. “Through a combination of dynamic athletes, iconic locations and extraordinary feats, the allure and anticipation continue to grow.”
One of the most accomplished snowmobilers in the world, LaVallee can be considered a jack-of-all-trades in the sport. The 28-year-old started in snowcross and is the only person to medal in all six snowmobile disciplines at the X Games and to perform a double backflip on a snowmobile.
“Jumping a world distance record on a snowmobile is also a very huge feat and it just gives me the extra confidence to say, ‘Hey, I think I got this.’ I guess we’ll find out if I actually do,” LaVallee said.
LaVallee is attempting to break the record of 301 feet set by Paul Thacker in March. Thacker reached a top speed of 90 mph during his jump, which LaVallee is expected to match, if not exceed.
“I used to think it is a pretty simple concept — hold it wide open and jump as far as you can. The hardest part is once you get on the sled and you hold it wide open, you are flying,” LaVallee said.
Attempting a snowmobile jump in snowless San Diego would seem to present problems, but that didn’t deter Red Bull from picking it. Miller said the Embarcadero provides a great venue for LaVallee to accomplish the record.
“Red Bull has a longstanding, positive relationship with the city of San Diego based on the Red Bull Air Race, which also took place at Embarcadero Marina Park,” Miller said. “In addition, San Diego is a sports mecca. From action sports to mainstream sports — the city embraces it all.”
When told he would attempt the jump in San Diego, LaVallee was surprised. A Minnesota native, he kindly reminded event organizers that there isn’t much snow in San Diego.
Snowmobiles can run without snow, but LaVallee said the lack of wintry precipitation presents a challenge. Changes had to be made to the craft to make it non-snow ready, including adding wheels to the skis for better traction on the Astroturf ramps.
“The snow works as a lubricant for the track that makes the machine go,” LaVallee said.
LaVallee visited San Diego last month to see the jump site and do some tests with the snowmobile. He enjoyed the quizzical looks he got with his snowmobile in the back of a truck.
“It’s hard to even make sense of it in my mind. Why am I looking at this run and thinking about jumping this with my snowmobile? This doesn’t even add up,” LaVallee said.
For LaVallee, the jump presents a greater challenge mentally than physically. In his test runs, he has become increasingly comfortable hitting the ramp.
“Every time you go to hit the ramp, you don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s so many different things you’re looking at that, mentally, it’s hard to just keep yourself revved up to do something,” LaVallee said. “This could be lights out if I mess up.”
LaVallee will attempt the jump across the water from Embarcadero North park to Embarcadero South park at approximately 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 and it will air live on ESPN after the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. The jump is free to spectators and gates open at both parks at 6 p.m.