Ten years ago, then semi-pro racer Tucker Hibbert, 16 at the time, shocked the snowmobile racing world by beating a star-studded field in his first pro race at the Winter X Games in Vermont, claiming a gold medal in the made-for-TV event.
Sunday, the racer from Goodridge, Minnesota, reiterated that, as an adult, he’s the most dominant racer in the sport. He absolutely destroyed the competition, winning by more than 48 seconds in the 20-lap final. In doing so, he earned his fifth X Games gold medal in snocross, including the last four in a row, and his ninth X Games medal overall.
Heat 1 of qualifying had Ryan Simons taking the holeshot and he was followed by Cory Davis and Dan Ebert. Davis quickly passed Simons to move on to win Heat 1. The top 5 racers to move on to the final from this heat were: 1. Cory Davis 2. Ryan Simons 3. Tim Trembly 4. Dan Ebert 5. Levi Lavallee.
In Heat 2 of qualifying, Tucker Hibbert took the holeshot and never looked back. By lap 7, Hibbert had a twelve second lead on the field. On lap 19, Bobby Lepage used the 18-foot Talladega turn to pass Colby Crapo for the final transfer spot. The top 5 to advance in Heat 2 were 1. Tucker Hibbert 2. Brett Turcotte 3. Paul Bauerly 4. Matt Piche 5. Bobby LePage.
In the LCQ (last chance qualifier), Zach Pattyn pulled the holeshot followed by Andrew Johnstad and Robbie Malinoski. Pattyn soon after was moved to the back for a false start and was never a factor. Malinoski took over the lead and never surrendered. The final 5 racers to advance to the Main were 1. Robbie Malinoski 2. Garth Kaufman 3. Andrew Johnstad 4. Ross Martin 5. Matt Morin.
In the Final, the field consisted of 15 racers. Nine of them started in the front row with the remaining six in the row behind. Levi Lavallee started on the inside with Tucker Hibbert three sleds over. Hibbert pulled the holeshot with Ryan Simons and Paul Bauerly close behind. Robbie Malinoski crashed in the first turn and was all but out of the race from the get go. At mid-race Levi LaVallee was already out with a DNF (did not finish) due to a crash in the Talladega corner, and Hibbert had a 18 second lead on second place Simons.
The remainder of the race was focused on the battle for silver and bronze between Simons, Morin and Martin. After falling to eighth place early in the race Martin climbed back into medal contention by passing Morin on lap 16 for second place. Hibbert went on to crush the field by 48.4 seconds over second place Martin followed by Morin in third. This gold medal puts Tucker Hibbert past Blair Morgan for most medals at the X Games.
It was a good day for Minnesota-based racers. Earlier Sunday¬†Matt Schulz won the Adaptive Snocross gold medal. Levi LaVallee closed the event by earning gold in the Snowmobile Knockout competition.