Friday’s Five: Snowmobile Racers Who Earned X Games Gold In Snocross

Toni Haikonen was the first racer to earn a gold medal in snocross at the Winter X Games.

Snowmobile snocross racing had been a part of the ESPN Winter X Games for 14 consecutive years before being dropped for the event earlier this year. It is returning in 2013, along with the Speed and Style event. See related story here.

So, for this week’s Friday’s Fast Five, we figured the timing was perfect to look back at the five (yes, five – isn’t that convenient for our Friday Fast Five?!) racers who have won gold in the snocross competition at this high-profile, made-for-TV event.
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  1. Toni Haikonen – The Flying Finn came to North American in 1994 with a unique style of high-flying appeal. At the first Winter X Games with snowmobile racing in 1998, Toni led from green to checkered on his No. 06 Ski-Doo to earn gold ahead of Dennis Burks and Per Berggren.
  2. Chris Vincent – After having a nasty off the year before, Vincent opened an early on his black Schuering Speed Sport Ski-Doo and was holding a comfortable lead until the last couple of laps, when his exhaust system separated, his engine didn’t get the necessary back-pressure to make full horsepower and he barely held off a hard-charging Blair Morgan to the checkered at Crested Butte, Colorado.
    We're sure Chris Vincent partied like it was 1999 after earning X Games gold in snocross in 1999.
  3. Tucker Hibbert – In his first race event as a Pro, Tucker Hibbert was smooth and flawless as the X Games turned to West Dover, Vermont. He beat a star-studded field, including his own father Kirk Hibbert, to earn gold. That was only the start for Tucker Hibbert at X Games, however. The career Arctic Cat racer has earned gold six times at Winter X, including the last five in a row – 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and they have rarely been close. He also earned silver in 2002, 2004 and 2005 and bronze in 2003 – 10 medals in all!
  4. Blair Morgan – The Saskatchewan native was already a superstar before he won his first X Games gold in 2001 – to the point where people were wondering if he was a choke-meister in the big event. But once Blair Morgan grabbed gold for the first time in 2001, he didn’t look back. He went gold in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and then put together another streak in 2005 and 2006. He earned 8 X Games medals in snocross overall before a crippling injury on a motocross bike took him from our sport too soon.
  5. Michael Island – This is the one that you could likely trip your friends up with in a trivia contest. The Ontario native was certainly a very good racer, but he didn’t have a long career on the national scene and didn’t win many national races. In fact, at the 2004 Winter X Games, he barely made the final after finishing fourth in his semi final. But in the race that mattered, Island got the holeshot and checked out while Morgan, Hibbert and soon-to-be-X-Games-media-darling Levi Lavallee traded paint behind him for the rest of the six lap final. Island’s victory wasn’t as stunning as, say, Derrick Cope winning the Daytona 500 (a shout out to all of you longtime NASCAR fans) as he won two other finals later in the year, but he was far from being one of the favorites going into the X
    Tucker Hibbert was just 15 -- yes, 15! -- when he won his first X Games gold medal in his first race as a pro in 2000.

    Games final.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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