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Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Daniel Bodin masters snow, dirt


It might be surprising to some that snow sports weren't the first love of two-time X Games snowmobiling gold medalist Daniel Bodin of Sweden. Bodin learned all the freestyle tricks on a dirt bike first.

Daniel Bodin
Daniel Bodin wants to break his long-distance snowmobile flip record, extending it to 150 feet.

After doing a freestyle motocross show in 2003 in Sweden a friend asked him to come do his FMX tricks at a show, but on a snowmobile instead. The rest is history.

Dubbed one of the sport's greatest innovators, he has countless tricks and combinations that his competitors do not do regularly or at all. Pushing the limits and being the top guy is what drives him to be the best he can be. It's not every day that athletes or competitors decide to set a goal that most certainly will result in serious injury if it's done wrong, and then tackle it head on. Knowing you're going to fail many times before you get it right is tough and for most people, something they're not willing to do.

This doesn't seem to be an issue for Bodin, although as he was given access back in 2011 to Red Bull-sponsored and long-distance record holder Levi LaVallee's foam pit in Longville, Minn. This is where the story gets good, being the innovator Bodin is, he decided he was going to do the first front flip on a snowmobile.

Unfortunately, after getting it dialed into the foam pit and hitting a few last jumps before taking it to the snow, a training accident Jan. 14 left him with a fractured vertebra that caused him to miss the 2012 Winter X Games. It was very disappointing because he would not be able to defend his Freestyle and Best Trick gold medals from 2011 and he couldn't prove what an innovator he was after conquering a trick that had never been done before. Instead, Heath Frisby landed the first front flip on a snowmobile at Winter X Games Aspen 2012.

While it's snowing back in his home of Sweden, Bodin is out staying with Jimmy Fitzpatrick in Southern California and getting back to his FMX roots. After a recent ride I had a chance to get to know Bodin, who also has a Winter Games snowmobile best trick silver medal 2010, and learn more about how he's made it to this point flipping dirt bikes and snowmobiles for a living.

ESPN.com: You got hurt back in January practicing for Winter X Games, what happened?
Bodin:
Yeah I got hurt two weeks before X-Games. I was working on a new trick I hadn't done before, I was working on front flips.

Front flips on Snowmobiles?
On a snowmobile, yeah. I got it down on a 110 mini bike, you know, and then the snowmobile. I actually had it down and it was just one of those times when I had to jump off and I landed in the foam pit with the momentum of the snowmobile hitting me straight in the head.

That's gnarly! Was this when you were up at Levi LaVallee's practicing in his foam pit?
Yep, I was at LaVallee's house and was spending a lot of time using his foam pit there, he's probably got the best foam pit out there.

Daniel Bodin
Daniel Bodin, jumping earlier this year at the Red Bull X-Fighters Jams in Yerevan, Armenia, started out in FMX before jumping snowmobiles.

I bet that's a huge advantage to have access to something like that when trying to attempt new tricks on a snowmobile?
For sure without a foam these days with special new tricks like the front flip, they're not tricks you just learn to dirt or snow. It's one thing if you're doing a back flip with a combo, you can do baby steps but with the front flip there's no baby steps. It's full on, no half-assing it there.

I read a quote that said you are like "the Travis Pastrana of innovation for snowmobiles."
Yeah, I tried to set the world's longest back flip on a snowmobile, which I still hold. I know a lot of flip combinations that no one's seen on snow. Of course I always want to be the top guy that everyone looks up to for sure.

Back to your long distance back flip record which you set in 2008, tell me a little bit about that? How far did you go?
I went 130 feet on a backcountry snow jump. But I want to be at 150 feet so that's 50 meters. I attempted it once but I don't know what happened, it looked like I was trying to do an under flip or something. With a snowmobile you have two skis on the front and I think one of the skis sunk in on the take-off, which threw me off rotation. Probably made the biggest crater in the snow ever.

We want to put it on the map, though, and build a kicker where it's more of an official take-off, landing gap that's measurable for an official record.

Speaking of flipping, how is it bouncing back and forth between flipping snowmobiles and flipping dirt bikes?
It's really weird, I mean flipping on a snowmobile, once you've learned it's a lot easier to flip than a dirt bike. Because you have the clutch on the [snowmobile] and you can rev it until you steer, hit the brake on it and pretty much just fall from the sky down. I'd say much respect for flipping dirt bikes on dirt, there's not so much forgiveness riding on dirt.

What came first, riding moto or snow?
I actually started riding moto first and then there was a friend I did a couple shows [with] back in Sweden and a friend asked me if I wanted to do the same thing on a snowmobile. And I didn't have a snowmobile, so he said they could provide me with one to give it a shot at doing the show. And I actually got sponsored later to do snow, so that was about 10 years ago and I'm still riding. So that was a good decision.

Daniel Bodin
Daniel Bodin has three X Games medals, including gold in Snowmobile Best Trick at Winter X Games 15 in 2011.