Surrounded by the team that adopted him for Winter X 15, Daniel Bodin raised a can of Red Bull in the air and screamed "Finally!" Then the six-foot Swedish rider looked above those around him and said, "Now where's Levi?"
Three weeks ago, Bodin was given the chance to use the resources and sleds of seven-time WX medalist Levi LaVallee, who was injured last month during practice for "New Year's. No Limits." Bodin had never jumped a snowmobile into a foam pit and he came into WX15 with four consecutive fourth place finishes. His first gold medal also makes the fifth unique gold medalist in all five years of WX Snowmobile Freestyle competition.
LaVallee said, with access to the foam pit, Bodin polished a lot of the tricks he already knew. His big extensions and long holds on tricks like the seat grab flip, Kiss of Death flip and the Superman Indian Air flip gave him a 91.33 in his first run. "Gold! Goooold!" Bodin continued to scream after the final. "That was the best run of my life. I don't think I understand what just happened."
Defending gold medalist Justin Hoyer said he felt like he had the best stuff, but admitted Bodin simply rode better. "That was a battle," Hoyer said. "It was the hardest Winter X ever. We've come a long way and hopefully we can continue to grow. Next year I'm a little nervous though. It's going to get ugly. Real ugly." Hoyer landed a no-handed flip in his final run but it wasn't enough for Bodin's smooth mastery.
"I'd never done it yet," Hoyer said of landing a flip with no hands. "I said, '[Heck with] it, last run and I'm keeping them off.' I'm proud of myself for doing that." Many expected Hoyer to attempt an Underflip, a backflip-360-barrel roll combination, in the final run if he was behind. "People kept pushing me to do that and it's not something I'm real comfortable doing here. I want to live to ride another day."
Texan Caleb Moore finished third for the second year in a row, this time without the body varials that helped him earn bronze in 2010.
Medal favorite Heath Frisby, who didn't qualify when he crashed out of the elimination round, was at the start line to support the riders. He said his flip levers were not adjusted evenly and his right arm slipped out of the hold during a Kiss of Death attempt. The unevenness caused his body to twist and it ripped him off the sled. He said he didn't do his second run because his air box, pipes and other parts were bent and broken. "I just wanted to play it smart. I have two others events to run still."