It's not every day you get to see a 500-pound snowmobile do a 5-story high, 100-foot long backflip. Minnesota native Levi LaVallee took advantage of the Superbowl circus to stage the crazy stunt over Minneapolis' Nicollet Mall.
But you, dear readers, get a chance to experience just that, from multiple angles, in the following video, which is mercifully light on tedious extreme sports hype and gets straight into the stunts. Enjoy!
If I'm going to be honest, this kind of thing is starting to suffer from over-professionalization, in my opinion. There wasn't a second during that video where I feared for LaVallee's safety. He's done the same thing a hundred times into foam pits. His ramps are designed by men with CAD programs, and he's probably managed to satisfy Polaris's insurance company he's worth covering.
It's a terrific demonstration of practiced skill, and a great example of a huge, heavy vehicle being taken way outside the envelope it's designed for. But honestly, these things are starting to look like physics demonstrations to me. They hold the same amount of will-they-won't-they drama as watching Neil Degrasse Tyson drop the big pendulum and try to act all dramatic about whether it'll come back and bop him in the nose. I think I get more excitement watching my toddler trying to balance on a waist-high brick wall, because that looks like somebody working at the absolute outer limits of their capability, with no guarantee of success.
I think the time is ripe for extreme sports stunt teams to start taking things to a new level - by working on making things look hairier. Perhaps the problem is these kids think they're too cool. And heck, it's hard to argue when they're doing 100-foot snowmobile flips. But the great stunt guys of old, the Jackie Chans and Buster Keatons and whatnot, had a way of making far simpler and less technical stuff look far more exciting, because they have a great way of looking out of control, even when they're not. Showmanship, they used to call it.
You certainly don't want to go back as far as the Evel Knievel approach, in which ramps were designed more or less by eyeballing the jump, and every other attempt would end in shattered bones and ambulance rides. And I don't even know if stunts of this physical magnitude can be done in any other way than by the book.
But the world could very well get extremed-out if things keep going the way they are. Still, here's to those goons that put their time, energy and focus into such things. They give us a glimpse of what life might look like without fear, and for that, we gotta give it up!
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