[Ed.'s Note: The Action Sports Report is a weekly blog that covers sports from skateboarding to snowboarding to FMX.]
In less than one month, on New Year's Eve (and live on ESPN), Australian-born motocross rider Robbie Maddison will attempt to jump his dirt bike 96 feet to the top of the Arc de Triomphe at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. But first, he has to practice, working his way up to 96 feet. For this week's Action Sports Report, we decided to tag along with Maddo during a day of practice at the Red Bull Compound, a new state-of-the-art training facility located somewhere in the Santa Clara River Valley just northeast of Los Angeles. The location of Red Bull's training center is being kept top-secret and won't open to the general media until January. Lucky you … you're getting a sneak peek (psst: it's past the AM/PM and the shooting range and just south of the cattle farms).
On the day of our visit, Maddison was suiting up for his third day of practice. The stunt, however, has been nearly a year in the making. Last New Year's Eve in Vegas; Maddison jumped his dirtbike the length of a football field (322 feet, to be exact). Moments after his wheels touched dirt, he began dreaming up his next stunt. Over the past six months, he's employed the help of mathematicians, engineers, stunt experts and a Hollywood stunt director, as well as ramp builders and fellow motocross riders, to help him pull off this jump as flawlessly and as safely as possible. He recently spent a weekend at a stunt training facility learning how to take a bad fall. Gone are the days of Evel Knievel dreaming up a stunt and hucking himself to sure disaster.
By the end of day three, the platform—a giant erector-set replica of the Arc in Vegas that rises in six-foot, six-inch increments—was at 78 feet and Maddison was clearing it almost too easily. "Only 18 feet to go," Maddison said after his last jump of the day. "The final five will be the toughest." Not to mention the 50-foot drop down from the top of Arch to a landing ramp below.
Oh, did we forget to mention that part?
If you don't know him already, acquaint yourself with Maddo and his friends with this mini Clip Reel …
•In a lead up to last year's jump, Maddison talks about his dream of jumping 360 feet.
•On March 3, 2008, Robbie jumped 351 feet in Melbourne, Australia.
•Danny Way jumps the Great Wall of China.
•Ryan Capes jumps a personal best 353 feet earlier this year.