Levi LaVallee (No. 108 Pirtek/Polaris) of Longville is one of the top contenders on the snocross circuit. Last year he was on his way to X Games gold before a crash, having to settle for silver. This year he had a strong performance at the X Games with a first-place finish in the first round and a sixth-place finish in the final.
Q: When racing you wrap a T-shirt around a coin for good luck - what's the story behind that?
A: I've had a lucky T-shirt since I was 12-years-old. It was literally disintegrating so I no longer could wear it. I took a little shred of the shirt and wrapped it around a coin my dad gave me that he kept in his pocket for the past 25 years. He gave me this coin when I was struggling a little bit last year. He said, "This coin gave me good luck so hopefully it'll give you good luck."
The coin is an Alcoholic Anonymous coin for sobriety. It had been in his pocket for so long it's now paper-thin. The coin meant a lot to him so I now keep that in my pocket wrapped in a piece of my lucky T-shirt to protect it. I feel good when it's in my pocket.
Levi LaVallee is from Longville
Q: You have a tattoo on your left shoulder. Is there any story behind that?
A: It's just an Iron Cross. It's a cover-up. I used to have "Launchin' Levi" on my shoulder, but the guy spelled it wrong!
Q: You have a serious workout regimen. Is there a certain part of the race this training is going to make the difference?
A: It helps me out in the longer races. The longer the race goes, that's when all the training starts coming into effect. If you don't train, 20 minutes on a snowmobile is going to seem like forever.
Q: In an interview with ESPN, you said you go "wide open" during races. What does that mean?
A: Basically I don't hold back and give it all that I got. It doesn't matter what race it is or how I'm feeling; I'm going to give it 100 percent. There's some guys who get a negative thought in their head and that may hold them back. They may say, "I'm not feeling good" or "I'm not riding good" and they float through the race. I'm going to pour my heart into it.
Sometimes it works out for you and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I get myself in trouble because I'm too aggressive or maybe I don't make a smart decision out there. But I definitely know that I'm doing whatever I can to get to the front of the pack.
Q: On TV, ESPN showed your 2006 crash over and over that cost you the gold medal at the X Games. Was there much talk about the crash this year?
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A: Not too much. Everybody just came up and said it was a bummer. I made a mistake. It was an unfortunate day. I would like to take that lap back. But that's racing, bad things happen.
Q: In the first round at this year's X Games, Brett Turcotte and you were battling it out for first before you took the lead. How'd the race go for you?
A: The first round went really well. I didn't get the best holeshot. I was a little bit late off the line so I ended up being behind Turcotte. We were going at it for a little bit. I had a couple spots where I was making up time, being a little quicker. And I ended up getting by him, took a little lead and was able to maintain that.
Q: After the race I saw several girls wearing "Launchin' Levi" T-shirts in the crowd. It seems like you're pretty popular with the ladies?
A: (laugh) It was probably my girlfriend and her friend the TV was showing. There are a few people that are fans of mine, which is unbelievable. I'm just riding snowmobiles from a small town and it's pretty foreign to me to have people excited about how I'm racing. I appreciate all their support.
Q: In the final round, it seemed like Tucker Hibbert was able to pull away early but I saw you began to creep up in the standings toward the end. How'd that race go for you?
A: It didn't go as well as the first round. I had a poor start off the line. The first few laps were really tricky. It was hard to see. There was a lot of snow dusting up. I was really struggling through the one rhythm section.
As I was able to loosen up, I was able to make a few passes. As I was going by Carl Schubitzke for fourth, I made a little mistake and came up short on a jump. It put me to the side and I came off. I remounted and ended up getting sixth overall. I was disappointed in my finish but at the same time I was excited to make the final and be in the mix.
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