With a throwback heel clicker across the finish line, Tucker Hibbert put an exclamation point on his eight straight ESPN X Games gold medal performance in snocross, finishing a dominating final on an uncharacteristically rough track in Aspen, Colorado.
Hibbert, 30, won his first X Games final in Vermont 15 years ago, polishing it off with a heel clicker on that day. Since then he’s been far more about domination than showmanship, especially every year since 2007, when he started his unprecedented run of gold medals.
On that day in 2000 in Vermont, Hibbert came down hill for the last time in the final, looked over his shoulder and shook his head seemingly in disbelief, then powered over the finish line while tearing off a big heel clicker.
In an interview with Snow Goer in November of 2014, Hibbert used self-deprecating humor to mock his freestyle skills, but that didn’t stop him from celebrating with a trick on this day, when he finished 20 seconds ahead of Kody Kamm, who took silver, and 27 ahead of Ross Martin, who finished third.
Road To Final
This year’s X Games Aspen snocross event would feature two twists. The first came in course layout – with track builders opting for an especially rugged, choppy track over the usual high-speed and big-air courses that have become an X Games hallmark. Also new, there would only be one route to the final – finish in the top 5 of your semi-final, with no last-chance qualifier race. That put extra pressure on in the semis, as one mistake would end a racer’s weekend, with no back-door route to the big dance.
Polaris rider Ross Martin got the holeshot in the first semi final, with Cat legend Hibbert on his snowflap. It took one lap for Hibbert to grab the lead, a position he would hold for the remaining nine laps.
At the end of lap three, the top five were Hibbert, Martin, Justin Broberg (Polaris), John Stenberg (Ski-Doo) and David Joanis (Arctic Cat). Despite a rough track and an especially hard charge through traffic up to sixth by Polaris rider Kyle Pallin, those top five would stay in that order, sending them to the final and sending Pallin, Trevor Leighton, Darin Mees, Cody Thomsen and Iain Hayden back to their trailers for the long drive home.
Semi final No. 2 saw the surprising Swede Adam Renheim jump out early and never look back – he was never seriously challenged on his Jimmy John’s-backed Ski-Doo and won by 4.9 seconds over defending silver medalist Kody Kamm (Polaris).
Ski-Doo’s Tim Tremblay finished a comfortable third and Pro Open rookie Corin Todd (Polaris) a comfortable fourth. Colby Crapo (Ski-Doo) was slightly less comfortable in fifth, as Andy Lieders tried to put on a late charge for the final transfer position and would be sent to his trailer along with Jake Scott, Max Tailifer, Mike Bauer and Logan Christian.
One of the ESPN announcers tried to get pithy before the final, saying Hibbert was going for the “Octo-pete” after winning the past seven X Games snocross gold medals.
Well, Hibbert took the drama out of this one early. On green, Hibbert took off from his far inside starting position, pushed hard to the first kinked turn that bottled up racers all day, then came out strong toward the first short rhythm second ahead of Martin and Broberg. By the end of the first lap, his lead was already more than a second, and it would triple before the end of the next lap.
Martin ran second for a few laps but then succumbed to an impressive downhill charge to Kody Kamm, who came through the field to move up to second.
By lap 6 in the 20-lap final, the top six were Hibbert, Kamm, Martin, Renheim, Broberg and Tremblay. That order never changed, despite an incredibly rugged track that seemed custom-made to create nasty offs.
In the end, Hibbert won by 20.7 seconds over Kamm, who got his second consecutive silver, with Martin another 7 seconds behind him earning his second X Games bronze medal to go with his three silvers, all behind Hibbert.
Renheim finished fourth and was the only other racer on the lead lap, by our count. Then came Tremblay, Joanis and Crapo, with Todd and Stenberg both falling to the back of the pack with crashes.
A Place In History
When Tucker Hibbert won in Vermont in 2000 in a final that included his father (Kirk Hibbert) and his racing hero (Blair Morgan), he became the Winter X Games youngest gold medalist, a record he held until Saturday night this year, when 14-year-old snowboarder Chloe Kim won gold in Women’s Snowboard Superpipe.
Hibbert gave a shout out to Kim, both during his television interview post-race and also via social media, tweeting “Records are meant to be broken – congrats to @chloekimsnow on taking over as the younger gold medalist in winter X Games history.”
Nineteen hours after sending out that tweet, Hibbert made his own history, becoming the oldest X Games Snocross gold medalist, the winner of eight in a row and 9 overall.
“It’s been an amazing day for us,” Hibbert understated. Indeed, with every passing event and every year, he cements himself into the role of best snocross racer ever.
Other Snowmobile X Games Results
In Adaptive Snocross, Garrett Goodwin passed early leader Jeff Tweet early then held off a mid-race challenge by motocross legend Doug Henry to earn his first gold medal at X Games. The dominator in this field, Monster Mike Schulz, didn’t make it to the race after injuring his heel, but take nothing away from Goodwin, who won in impressive style and overcame some very tough situations on his modified Ski-Doo.
The return of hillcross racing to X Games brought gold to the multi-talented Canadian Ryan Simons on an Arctic Cat. He won the final by just under 2 seconds over Justin Thomas, with Yamaha racer Justin Tate grabbing the bronze Saturday night in Aspen.
Friday, Snowmobile Long Jump was won by Heath Frisby on a Polaris. He took gold with a 164-foot, 11-inch jump ahead of Cory Davis’ 160-foot launch. Colten Moore claimed the bronze.
That same Colten Moore won an emotional victory in Speed & Style on Thursday, beating Frisby’s teammate Joe Parsons in the final. Cory Davis won the bronze in a semi-final against Levi LaVallee.