ESPN Formally Invites 17 Snowmobilers To 2016 X Games Aspen

This breaking news has just been cycled into the Snow Goer magazine newsroom…. Please stand by for this urgent and startling message:

Tucker Hibbert and Levi LaVallee have been invited back to X Games Aspen.

While that shocking news sets in, we’ll let you in on the other news, announced this morning by the folks at ESPN that host the annual extreme sports event in Aspen, Colorado.

Every fall, the X Games organizers try to make a big deal out of the athletes they invite to compete in their games, releasing names in waves. The first wave of 83 athletes (including 17 in the snowmobile disciplines)  includes the extremely obvious names – basically, people who have earned medals in quite recent X Games events or otherwise have truly stood out in their sports in the last year.

Tucker Hibbert X Games
Tucker Hibbert has been invited back to the X Games Aspen to defend his title. Photo by John Hanson.

In the snowmobile world, that means of course that Arctic Cat’s Tucker Hibbert is invited back to defend his incredible run in SnoCross (ESPN’s spelling of the word snocross), along with last year’s silver medalist Polaris rider Kody Kamm and last year’s bronze winner Ross Martin, also on a Polaris. Those three have put together quite a string, with Hibbert winning the last 8 consecutive gold medals (9 overall golds, plus three silvers and a bronze) at what has been traditionally referred to as Winter X, Kamm winning the last two silvers and Martin medaling in the four of the last five SnoCross competitions – three silvers and one bronze, and the only one he didn’t medal in he missed with injury.

Beyond those three, ESPN doesn’t spell it out but it appears that it chose the remaining top 5 points gatherers in the 2014-15 ISOC Amsoil Championship Series and their favorite media darling, meaning Tim Tremblay (Ski-Doo, second in points last year), Kyle Pallin (Polaris, third in points) and Logan Christian (Arctic Cat, fifth in points), plus somewhat-retired, personable snocross racer and performer Levi LaVallee (Polaris) who X Games just can’t seem to live without. LaVallee has captured seven gold medals, two silvers and one bronze over the years at the X Games though he frankly hasn’t been very competitive in SnoCross – his last finish in the top 10 came back in 2009 and his only SnoCross medal was in 2006. His golds have spanned the snowmobile competition world, however – HillCross (1), Freestyle (2), Speed & Style (2) and Long Jump (2).

In Adaptive SnoCross, the X Games invited back last year’s podium, Garrett Goodwin (gold), Doug Henry (silver) and Jeff Wanzy (bronze), plus four-time previous Adaptive champ Mike Schultz, 2011 silver medalist Jeff Tweet and perennial top-fiver EJ Poplawski.

In the Snowmobile Freestyle competition, a who’s who of past medalists made the cut in this first round, including LaVallee plus Colten Moore, Joe Parsons, Heath Frisby and Daniel Bodin. Snowmobile Long Jump, Hill Cross and Speed & Style competitions were dropped from the X Games for this coming year.

The X Games Aspen competition will be January 28-31.

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