Next Trick Aftermath



Tonight, jaws agape, we saw the double flip and then an impact-to-flat so violent that Levi LaVallee bounced off his machine. And that historic bounce allowed Alaskan wildman Dane Ferguson to capture the gold medal in the debut of WX Snowmobile Next Trick with a trick the Twist-Off—dedicated to a late friend.

What can we say about the obscene events of the night? Nothing that Ferguson and LaVallee couldn't say better themselves:

You were preparing for the double backflip too but abandoned it because you didn't have the right sled, among other things. Take us through the challenges of just getting here?
DANE FERGUSON: Going back over a month ago I thought everything was going to be set up—we thought we had the sleds and the money to do the double. We went down to California and put some hard work in, but then we had some unfortunate sled issues and ran into a budget problem. So I thought it was a good time to pull an old trick out of the book and dedicate it to my buddy Christoph [von Alvensleben]. He's the one who backed me into a corner and made me do the trick in the first place—and I'm glad I was able to pull it off. I didn't pull it off as big, clean or gnarly as I was hoping to, but it was just good enough to win today and I'm very happy with that.

You got a Yamaha sled to use just yesterday or was it today?
Pretty much yesterday. I rode one around a field for a bit, zipped around the parking lot, and then came out this morning and crashed a couple times, knocked the cobwebs out, and then knew I was ready to go. Now I'm really hoping to keep bringing new things to the sport that aren't normally seen on ramps and wood.

Tim Mutrie

Jim Rippey, the first rider to sick a snowmobile backflip, and Levi LaVallee following tonight's Next Trick contest.

If Levi had OK'd it you would've hit his super steep ramp tonight and maybe even gone for a double too? Say it ain't so?
Definitely. I was thinking about hitting Levi's ramp. We have a real Hit It Pu**y attitude [also the title of a Ferguson sled film] back home at Turnagain [in Alaska] and I was really afraid to come home to my friends, you know—having this perfect double backflip jump set up, having a perfectly good-running Yamaha sled—and not do a double backflip. That just does not make sense to us where we come from. Well, Levi said I couldn't borrow his ramp, Yamaha said they wouldn't pay me any extra money, and [Joe] Duncan said ESPN would be mad if I did that. So we didn't do that and it worked out good. I'm still walking and I've got a gold medal. I'm stoked.

Yeah, what about that guy Levi?
Levi, man, I'm getting sick of hearing that name. [Laughs] But he sure is a nice guy. Can't we call him Sam or Roger or something? No, Levi's a great guy, he's the best athlete with one of the best teams and there's a lot of support and knowledge going on in that camp, and that's an unbeatable camp. I've said this several times and, man, I'm just envious of the package they've got going on. Everyone wants to be part of a package that good.

The trick is named for your friend is the gold for him as well?
This is definitely Christoph's medal. I know he'd be here hucking down today at these X Games with all of us if he was still here.

It is emotional for you?
Yeah, a bit.

That was a devastating impact are you OK?
LEVI LAVALLEE: Yeah, I'm all right. My left leg and stuff is a little bit weak. You couldn't tell afterwards—I had so much adrenaline going I probably could've been running on a broken leg. But it was just such a hard impact and my left ankle and knee are a little tweaked, but not bad. I think I'll be just fine. It's tough to try it another time when you're limping on one side though, and especially with a trick like that.

You're the only person in the world who knows what it feels like to rotate a sled like that what does it feel like?
Tim Mutrie

Aussie madman Robbie Maddison visited with Levi LaVallee before his double backflip attempt tonight: Maddison's advice: "I told him I believed he was facing the same fear I faced on New Year's, just to play off it."

It's the scariest thing I've ever done. Going two times around is pretty gnarly. Going once around is gnarly, and that second rotation seems like it takes forever. I'm just really happy that I was able to walk away from it and I've really gotta give a shout out to everyone that's helped me do this. There've been a lot of people behind the scenes; it's not just me going out hucking myself because a lot of people have put a lot of time and effort into this and I'm thankful for that.

Mid-flight were you aware of where you were and that you were going long?
I wasn't sure I was going to go long because the thing shoots you so high up in the air. So the first rotation you're still behind the landing and you're like, "Oh man I don't know if I'm going to make it not." So I was worried I was going to come up short. But I stuck with it and sure enough I went long on it. And as far as spotting the landing, it's so tough because you're rotating so fast and that last little bit of rotation is when you see the ground. And it's literally you see the ground, BAM, you land. There's no, "Oh there it is, hit the brake, and set it in smooth." It's just pretty much get it around as fast as you can and hope you can roll out of it.

Is this the final chapter of your double backflip story or is there more?
You know I wanted to go out with two double backflips in my career. I wanted one at my house last week—that I wanted to ride out of and which I didn't. And I wanted one here—which I didn't ride out either. So I don't know if I can put it on the shelf yet.

Both Ferguson and LaVallee were ushered to the media tent for a press conference following the event. And as the two riders walked out of that affair, we asked how they were feeling Dane with his ankle and Levi with ankle/knee and who's knows what else.

Said Dane, "Cant even feel it. I'm floating."

Said Levi, "Stiff, man, and getting sorer."

Joshua Duplechian

Dane Ferguson in the midst of the Twist Off that won Next Trick.