Urban Snowmobiling: Levi LaVallee Rips Saint Paul
You thought snowmobiling's jack-of-all-trades had done it all. Watch this video. You were wrong.
Some people see the world as a playground, where anything and everything can and will be a shreddable obstacle. As a kid growing up in Minnesota, Levi LaVallee looked at his state’s capital Saint Paul like a ripe fruit, begging to be plucked, and ripped to shreds on his snowmobile. A land of opportunity that only he could see, it was his mission to take that city over on his trusty sled. Now, he's done it.
LaVallee spoke of his experience ripping the streets of Saint Paul with the same exuberance as when he had imagined it as a kid, all those years ago:
Levi LaVallee: "As a kid, you’re always looking at things like ‘Oh, I could probably jump that,’ when you’re driving through a city. To be able to actually go do that, it was like a fairy tale.”
I remember touring the capital. To think that all of that stuff I went and looked at as a kid, now I’m jumping and doing these amazing stunts. That was a pretty cool feeling
The video was a project that LaVallee and crew had been hoping to bring to life for years, and with the help of Saint Paul, it became a possibility:
LaVallee: "Saint Paul was awesome. They were super supportive of the project, and all of the people helping us out – the police and everyone blocking the roads – were amazing. The whole project went really smooth."
I should have tried to cool the sled down more, but I was having so much fun ripping back and forth and blowing donuts on the asphalt
The only major hiccups throughout filming came due to Levi's own level of enjoyment. It's a natural result of having literally too much fun:
LaVallee: "The only mechanical problem we had was on the Smith Avenue bridge. I probably did 10 different runs back and forth on it, and since there wasn’t a lot of snow, it wasn’t cooling the engine at all. I eventually burned up the motor. I should have tried to cool the sled down more, but I was having so much fun ripping back and forth and blowing donuts on the asphalt.”
Running a sled on the streets was pretty new territory for all involved. Levi spoke of the special tricks the team took to make the sled more road-friendly:
LaVallee: "We had a lot of really cool mods on the snowmobile – we had a sled with wheel skis so that I could turn on asphalt and maneuver the hard surfaces better."
To be doubling my way up stairs and jumping off the platform where people would normally be hanging out. To do that all in one sequence was like my childhood dream, right there
His favorite section? The one where he got to do the most jumps, of course:
LaVallee: "The Harriet Island section, we shot that whole thing straight through one time, just to do it, and it was incredible. I’ve raced snowmobiles, and done freestyle, and distance jumped, and it was just crazy to be doubling my way up stairs and jumping off the platform where people would normally be hanging out. To do that all in one sequence was like my childhood dream, right there.”
There were quite a few high risk jumps out there
It wasn't all great times, though. LaVallee admitted that there were several jumps that had him nervous:
LaVallee: "There were quite a few different ones that had me questioning myself. There was quite a few high risk jumps out there. One that I was really nervous about to begin with was the bridge drop. That was scary, until I actually did it, then I realized it wasn’t so bad."
To jump over that, there’s really no room for error; if you don’t make it over that hole, that’s obviously life and death
It's natural when taken out of normal territory to feel a bit anxious. Even though Levi has hit jumps ten-times that size, the potential consequences behind some of the gaps were in the back of his mind:
LaVallee: "It’s an 80-foot hole next to the parking garage. To jump over that, there’s really no room for error; if you don’t make it over that hole, that’s obviously life and death. That was a bit to digest at first – you look at that hole and you think ‘Yeah, that’s pretty deep.’ I’ve jumped something like that thousands of times, but once there’s that big hole in there, the consequences were so big that all of a sudden I got nervous."