If Tucker Hibbert keeps this up, he’s going to have to put an addition onto the house he and wife Mandi are building, just to hold all of his medals, trophies and other racing awards.
The king of snocross was at it again today in Aspen, Colorado, where he won his fifth straight X Games gold medal in snocross and sixth overall on his Monster Energy Drink, Castle Racing, Stud-Boy and Speedwerx (among others) sponsored Arctic Cat.
Much like the last four years, there was very little drama in the event once things got rolling. Hibbert got out front, pulled away and was never seriously challenged, adding to the legend that he has built.
Hibbert’s dominance of snocross has caused some to cheer against him – just so the finishing order isn’t so darned predictable. The career Arctic Cat racer now living in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, addressed that when interviewed on ESPN immediately after the race, with a “sorry if it was a little boring,” quip.
“It feels amazing, that was an awesome race,” Hibbert said.
The field for the 15-lap final was set with a set of qualifying races and a last chance qualifier. Bobby LePage of Duluth, Minnesota, racing on a Levi LaVallee Race Team Polaris, ran away with the first semi final in surprisingly easy fashion. Tim Tremblay (Ski-Doo) finished second, with fellow Canadian Robbie Malinoski (Ski-Doo) third, Johan Lidman (Cat) of Sweden fourth and semi-pro bump-up Kyle Pallin (Cat) super-excited to finish fifth and earn a bid into the final.
Hibbert set the page in the second semi-final, running away with the eight lap race, with rival Ross Martin (Polaris) of Wisconsin second, Dan Ebert (Cat) third, Iain Hayden (Polaris) fourth and Emil Ohman (Ski-Doo) fifth.
Those who hadn’t qualified at that point were forced into a last-chance qualifier, which was won by Ryan Simons (Cat), followed by Justin Broberg (Ski-Doo), Mathiue Morin (Ski-Doo), Cody Thomsen (Cat) and Zach Pattyn (Cat). The field, in theory, was set, but mechanical problems forced Morin to pull out of the final and gave sixth-place LCQ finisher Colby Crapo (Polaris) a ride it the final.
Going For Gold
After overcast skies and flat light in the semi-finals, the sun was shining for the final on a beautiful day in Aspen. When the green flag waved, however, one competitor was already moving. Ross Martin – undoubtedly knowing that he would need a great start to compete with Hibbert, bumped his throttle a fraction of a second too soon and grabbed an early lead, but Hibbert was immediately snapping at his snowflap.
Hibbert bobbled once while in pursuit, and at the same time LePage appeared to be charging toward an inside line and lost control, flying off the track and clipping a course worker. He was out.
Hibbert and Martin battled for most of the first lap before Martin was stopped by a waving black flag – officials made him sit for several seconds as a penalty for his early start. Hibbert roared away, while Martin fell to mid-pack before restarting.
That’s about all there is to say about the lead spot on the final – Hibbert was his amazing self up front, putting down seemingly perfect lap after perfect lap. Yes, Tucker, it was boring, but it was also an amazing display of dominance. It’s something X Games fans are used to seeing from Tucker – according to the TV team, Hibbert had won the previous four X Games finals by 16, 16, 36 and 28 seconds. No margin was immediately available to us after this race, but it seemed at least as long as last year.
There was plenty of battling far behind him, however. The upstart Pallin (a Yooper, no less) was running a very strong second with Ebert third in the early going, but two veterans were charging forward.
First came Martin. Last year at X Games, he charged from an early ninth place to finish second, and he was making a similar charge this year. By lap four he was back up to fourth, then drove past Ebert to grab third. Soon he was in pursuit of Pallin. The two staged a tight battle and traded paint a couple of times before Martin took the spot for good on lap 7. He would finish a solid second to Hibbert – again, just like last year at Winter X, and just like so many other times on the national ISOC race circuit.
Pallin fought to get back up with Martin for a couple laps, but soon he had another battle on his hands. Malinoski was on the charge on his Team Amsoil Ski-Doo, claiming third on lap 11 and holding it until the checkered flag. He collected the bronze.
Pallin and Ebert finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Tremblay spent most of the race is sixth, but a late off allowed Cody Thomsen (another semi-pro) to claim that spot. Aside from LePage and Tremblay, others who had trouble and were out of the race at the end were Crapo, Simons and Ohman.