Some may think it wasn’t as impressive as the descent of the flying Elvi, but many visitors to Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve 2009 chose to line the spectator viewing area’s of two different motorcycle jump exhibitions.
Las Vegas once again offered Red Bull motorcycle rider Robbie Maddison on a ramp to New Year’s revelers. In 2008 Maddison broke the Guinness World Record with a jump that was longer than a football field at the Rio Hotel. But in 2009 it was the vertical distance that proved a challenge. As part of an ESPN presentation, Maddison jumped his motorcycle to the top of the Arc de Triomphe in front of the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. He launched his bike 120 feet up in the air to land on the Arc, took a moment to enjoy the view, and then came back via a 50-foot free fall drop to his landing ramp.
The crowd at the no-charge event went wild with their oohs and aahs, thrilled to have the opportunity to see Maddison in action.
But that was quite a different feeling from the fans up the Strip at the Mirage, where 46-year-old Robbie Knievel had just set up his ramps for his motorcycle jump. His motorcycle jump attempt came exactly 41 years after Knievel’s father, Evel Knievel, broke most of the bones in his body with a jump at Caesars Palace that went bad.
It was originally reported that Knievel would ride through the volcano flames in a televised event for FOX. However, after a lengthy delay, when the final jump occurred, the ramps were actually set up in front of the volcano and the burst of flames was just pretty scenery, instead of being a formidable obstacle for the bike and rider.
As the fans disbursed there were some who wished they’d spent their evening more towards the South end of the Strip. But Vegas has a way of making even the mundane fun and the story will last longer than the video will. Besides, there’s always next year.