For the first decade after Millennium, it was pretty obvious who the kings of snocross racing were: Blair Morgan and Tucker Hibbert. Oh sure, there were a few years there where other quality racers won championships based on injuries to those two, or the fact that Tucker left snocross racing at mid-season to go chase his motocross dreams. But when it came time for a BIG race (this Winter X Games snocross), if one or both of those guys were healthy, it was going to be one of those two at the top of the podium, and the race wasn’t likely to be close.
Some folks argued at the time that the presence of such dominant racers was hurting the sport – there was no intrigue, they argued. Fans who paid money to show up at Canterbury or Valcourt, for example, were rarely surprised with the results, and the race for the checkered was rarely very competitive. (There were plenty of others who made a counter-argument, of course, that people love to see greatness – think Jeremy McGrath or Tiger Woods in their prime, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.)
Well, going into the coming snowmobile season, it’s very easy to make the case that four different racers could be considered “tied” in the pre-season odds for who will be the Pro Open season champ for the 2012-13 on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Series, and there’s a fifth driver we wouldn’t bet against. This is about as competitive as it’s been in probably two decades – take that, all of you people who wanted parity!!
So, this week’s Friday’s Fast Five ranks the Top 5 drivers as we see it, but, as stated, one could really throw a blanket over the top 4. Do you think we blew the order, or left somebody out? Let us know in the comment section below.
2. Tim Tremblay – The big Quebecor is the defending points champion, and he’s moving over to the high-quality Schuering Speed Sport Ski-Doo team. He’s strong, determined and fast, and last year he seemed to cut down on his risks and aggressive moves, which led to more consistent finishes. He turns 26 in November.
3. Kody Kamm – A first-year pro with this group? We’d typically avoid that, but this kid is the exception. Not since the rise of Tucker Hibbert in the 1990s have we seen a teenager come through the semi-pro (now called “Pro Lite”) ranks with such flair. Yes, Ross Martin looked dominant in Semi-Pro and won his first ever Pro race at Lake Geneva; Kamm looked even better. This aggressive 18 year old from Kenosha, Wisconsin, looks good enough to be the next big dominator. He’ll be back with Hentges Racing on a Polaris this year, but now he’ll be with the Pros.
4. Tucker Hibbert – As hard as it was putting the defending champion Tremblay second, it was really difficult putting Hibbert fourth, because we can very clearly envision a path to a championship for a healthy Hibbert racing on a second-year sled. For some reason (probably because he’s been racing against Pros since he was 15 and winning his first of six Winter X Games gold medals) he seems older than his 28 years and he’s coming off a less-than-stellar year. But don’t for a second count him out. This long-time Cat racer is well-trained, determined and has the ability to read tracks like nobody else.
5. Robbie Malinoski – Somehow, when the rest of us weren’t aging, Robbie Malinoski reached his 30s – in fact, he’ll turn 31 next month. That’s pretty old for a snocross racer, but they forgot to tell the determined Saskatchewan native that information last season. Suddenly the racer who had a fair number of ups-and-downs over a storied career became Mr. Consistent, as in consistently on the podium, always driving smart and staying out of trouble and generally stacking really good performances on top of each other on his Schuering Speed Sport Ski-Doos. Honestly? We think he’s a half-step behind the four drivers we listed above. But he also think he’ll finish ahead of two of them in the points.