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2014-02-16 at 17:45

Taking flight

By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
91.5 CKPRWin Lunch with Danny and Laura for up to 20 people! Enter here to win on Thunder Bays Best Music 91.5 CKPRClick Here!

Confidence and self-belief are paramount in Willie Elam’s line of work.

After all, once you’re upside down in the air on a snowmobile after taking a jump, you better believe you can stick the landing.

Elam, 27, said injuries are part of the territory in freestyle snowmobile jumping and in order to be successful, riders need to have short memories.

“You have to just go for it and believe in yourself that you’ve done the practice enough to do it,” he said following his afternoon show at Fort William Historical Park’s annual Winter Carnival on Sunday..

“(Injuries) can happen at any time. Everybody who has done this has been hurt at one time or another.”

The X Games veteran performed more than a dozen runs during his show along the frozen Kaministiqua River, delighting the assembled crowd.

His tricks ranged from backflips to extraordinary seat grabs where he would briefly separate from his vehicle.

Story continues after video...



But it was the flips that drew everybody’s attention, and Elam admitted they are both the most fun and the scariest to perform.

“It was absolutely phenomenal to see something like that in Thunder Bay and they were pretty incredible stunts, especially some of the flips,” said onlooker Tyler Manning.

The demonstrations are the newest wrinkle to the park’s long-running Winter Carnival event, and it did not disappoint.

“The stunt show, at least the first installment we saw, was really impressive,” said Marty Mascarin, communications officer with Fort William Historical Park.

“I think folks really got their money’s worth, and that was value added. There was no special admission for that and I think we got the requisite oos and ahhs from the crowd.”

The show helped diversify the audience of the carnival, which is primarily composed of families with younger children.

The spectacle attracted many teenagers and young adults, who got to briefly meet with Elam after his set.

“I’m not really sure if we’ve seen something like this much in Thunder Bay before, let alone at Fort William Historical Park,” Mascarin said. “I think it was a true novelty and very exciting to have that.”

Elam said despite the risks, it is still his ideal job.

“I figured I might as well do it while I can,” Elam said. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had. It’s fun and I’m going to ride no matter what anyway so I might as well make some money.”

The day didn’t get off to the smoothest start, as Elam’s brother-in-law Drew Latimer suffered a severe knee injury on a jump.

The first session was also cancelled due to some issues with the run, which were corrected for the second showing a couple hours later.

Elam will be back in action on Monday with shows scheduled for 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The carnival itself runs from 11 a.m. until closing at 5 p.m.

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We've improved our comment system.
gone for good says:
Nice, now the kids are going to start doing dumb moves on sleds risking death or permanent disability. Quard or par. Either way a life in a wheelchair.
All I see is a very foolish person looking to kill himself all in the name of fun.
2/16/2014 9:57:11 PM
virtualrealityczech says:
The X Games have been on for years. Kids have been seeing this on TV and YouTube their entire life. Seeing one guy do it live won't suddenly make them rush out and try it.
2/17/2014 10:44:08 AM
Bigtime says:
If you are a parent you should not be relying on celebrities or athletes to be role models. YOU should be their role model. Your a typical complainer, all these celebs letting you down as role models for your kids (Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus) Its pathetic, do some parenting instead of letting pop culture raise your child. You don't want them influenced or doing dumb tricks? Then don't buy them a snow machine...don't let them use YOUR snow machine, teach them the dangers involved so they can make good choices when they are adults buying their OWN snow machine and choosing NOT to do jumps etc. I hope and pray your not a parent, plop your kids down in front of the TV and let it raise your child, then complain about the garbage that is on TV being a bad influence, absolutely pathetic.
2/18/2014 12:06:13 PM
woof!! says:
"It was the flips that drew everyone's attention" why no video of them then.
2/17/2014 8:17:07 AM
rootbear says:
Thanks for the inspiration! I'm building a ramp at camp next week end and hope I can make the old Elan do the same! Wish me luck!
2/17/2014 8:26:27 AM
donnybrook says:
Hey TBNews, you do know that Youtube is free to use, right? It's okay to upload clips longer than 7 seconds.
2/17/2014 9:36:26 AM
hardwood floors says:
to gone for good : people (including kids) have been jumping sleds/atvs/bikes for many decades already. this isn`t a new thing.....so relax, watch and enjoy the show.
2/17/2014 11:17:43 AM
Joesmo says:
Hey gone for good. I guess you have no control over your kids. I got my 4 yes old trying to jump my garage right now.
I also will not permit to watch the Olympics as they may want to ski or play hockey and will become maimed.
2/17/2014 11:21:48 AM
Outspoken1 says:
Tbnewswatch.... How can you post the first thread by "gone for good"? "Quad or par" is by no means a political correct term for someone who has suffered spinal injuries!
2/17/2014 9:52:44 PM
go zone says:
"goodforgone" These riders are professionals with many years of experience and they clearly understand the risks involved. This is their job and are probably happy doing so, role model or not. I am also not one for dangerous behavior, but to each their own and hats off to these professional riders for a entertaining show. As for your comment on foolish person looking to kill themselves, is a foolish comment in itself! Think about it!
2/18/2014 11:42:19 AM
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