Alaska News

Alaskan's flip and twist nails X Games gold

As a former motocross racer and hockey player, Dane Ferguson embraces speed, big air and the possibility of high-impact collisions -- pretty much anything dynamic and daring.

These days, making wild jumps on a snowmachine allows Ferguson to fulfill his dreams to the extreme, and Friday night he did that on the national stage in a televised event.

The 28-year-old from Anchorage won the Snowmobile Next Trick competition at the Winter X Games 13 in Aspen, Colo.

Ferguson landed a trick he calls a Twist Off -- a backward flip with a twist -- to seize the gold medal at the Games, which also include skiing and snowboarding events.

The gold medal earned Ferguson $20,000 in prize money.

Cory Davis, 20, of Soldotna won the bronze medal in Thursday's Snowmachine Speed and Style competition. Bronze earned Davis $10,000.

Ferguson dedicated his victory to his late friend, Christoph von Alvensleber, a fellow pro snowmachiner who died in an avalanche in Turnagain Pass last February. The bill of Ferguson's helmet wore bore a legend: "Christoph 4-1-82/2-15-08.'' And the Twist Off was inspired by Ferguson's years of riding and learning tricks with Alvensleber.

"I'm totally stoked I landed it, naming it after my bro," Ferguson said Saturday by cell phone from Aspen. "I thought it was only fitting that I brought this trick to the X Games.''

Ferguson was the only rider among four to execute and land his trick and remain on his machine. Levi LeVallee performed a double back flip, but the violence of his landing propelled him off his sled, which disqualified him from winning.

"Those other guys all tried new tricks they'd never done before and I pulled out a trick I've done for three years. It worked to go the safety route," Ferguson said. "I feel like an extra skater on the ice who goes to the side of the net and the rebound comes straight out to him.

"Hey, it's not my fault I got the good bounce. I went to the net."

Ferguson, who has appeared in several snowmachining films and most prominently in the "Turnagain Hardcore" series of films, said he couldn't have pulled off his victory without the aid of his friend Jeff Mullin of Quebec. Mullin loaned him a Yamaha snowmachine for the Next Trick competition.

In Anchorage, Ferguson is a carpenter; he expects to be back at work Wednesday installing cabinets at Clark Middle School. He plans to compete in Sweden's X Games in April.

Because motor sports are expensive and Ferguson is not sponsored, he only competes occasionally.

Still, the thrill of both backcountry riding and performing tricks in competition hasn't lost its allure.

"I like the adrenaline rush. I like the Russian Roulette of taking chances, and I have a high tolerance for pain," Ferguson said. "I don't think I'm any different than a roofer or construction worker walking trusses two or three stories up, or anybody else who has a dangerous job -- loggers, jobs like that.

"When you're working, danger is danger. The only difference is I'm playing with my toys all day."

As for Davis, the bronze medal came as a total surprise. He previously had competed just once in a Speed and Style event, in which riders alternate timed laps with laps in which they perform tricks off four ramps. Besides, Davis said by cell phone from Aspen, he had barely practiced jumps before the competition.

"I don't think it will sink in for a bit," Davis said. "Now I really need to get a back flip down, and some back-flip variations.

"Next year I can not only bring my speed, but bring some new tricks. I can get a shinier medal."

Find Doyle Woody's blog online at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.

By DOYLE WOODY

dwoody@adn.com

Doyle Woody

Doyle Woody covered hockey and other sports for the Anchorage Daily News for 34 years.

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