Minnesota snowmobiler hits his mark

Levi LaVallee and Robbie Maddison flew through fog and across 300 feet of water to set world records for the longest snowmobile and motorcycle jumps on Saturday night.

LaVallee cleared 412 feet, 6 inches on his snowmobile and shattered his own record of 361 feet set in December 2010, hours before he was seriously injured in a crash while training.

Maddison wanted to hit 400 feet but landed at 378 feet, 9 inches, which organizers said broke his certified world record of 351 feet, 3 inches.

LaVallee jumped off his sled and raised his arms in the air and Maddison popped a wheelie after they’d landed safely.

For both riders, that was the important thing.

LaVallee, of Longville, Minn., was scheduled to attempt his snowmobile jump last New Year’s Eve in San Diego but crashed during practice two weeks before, fracturing his pelvis, breaking several ribs and collapsing both lungs.

When LaVallee arrived at the massive setup earlier in the evening Saturday, he couldn’t see from the roll-in ramp to the landing ramp across the water. About a half-hour before the jump, the fog cleared somewhat and the visibility improved.

"When the fog rolled in, that’s an unexpected thing that could have altered the jump, and it turns out we ended up hitting it faster and going farther," LaVallee said.

"It’s just exciting to not only safely make it here but go over 400 feet. Just making it over here safely and riding away, I mean, that’s the biggest feat in itself. After last year, crashing, that was scary. I was lucky to be here today, let alone jumping. It’s redemption, for sure, just being able to come back and face this head on and be able to accomplish this."

The two daredevils roared down long run-in ramps at around 100 miles per hour and cleared the water gap at Embarcadero Marina Park on San Diego Bay.

Maddison was left with another goal to pursue.

"For what I need to go 400, I think I need a bit more room," he said. "To go as far as we did tonight and land safely is kind of a happy New Year for me."
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