Hibbert takes five-peat in WX SnoCross
Tucker Hibbert has run out of fingers on one hand to represent his success. Moments after he dominated the Snowmobile SnoCross final Sunday for the fifth consecutive year, a mob of cameramen rallied around the gold medalist.
With today's win, Hibbert set another record, breaking the tie he had with snowmobile and motocross legend Blair Morgan, who has five WX SnoCross victories. "One thing I have to do is give props to Blair Morgan, the man who held that title," Hibbert said. "He texted me last night and said he would hate me if I won today. He was just kidding, of course. Blair is an awesome guy and I'm honored to sit one step higher than him."
Hibbert's five-peat also ties him with Snowboarder X athlete Nate Holland for the most consecutive medals in one sport.
Hibbert was flawless in his 12th Winter X appearance, leading every lap of every race. He drew the last gate pick in his heat race and had to start on the far outside, but he still managed to pull the holeshot and win by 15 seconds.
In the final, he had first gate pick and started from the very inside line. He and Ross Martin came out of the first corner side-by-side, but it was Martin who led going up the first hill out of Turn 2. Martin was black-flagged at the end of lap one and forced to drop back outside of the top three. WX rookie Kyle Pallin took over the second spot but it was clear that the 19-year-old from Michigan was not going to be making up any time on Hibbert, who opened a nine-second gap within two laps. By Lap 6, Martin had caught Pallin but had difficulty making the pass. At the beginning of Lap 8, he jumped to the inside of Pallin for a clean move but then spun out and they tangled.
Martin came from behind to earn his second consecutive SnoCross silver medal. He said he fully expected to be given the black flag for jumping the start. "It was plain as day and there wasn't much I could do," he said. "I locked up the brake but the throttle was pinned and by the time I hit the brake I was probably half a sled or more ahead."
Former silver medalist Robbie Malinoski overtook Pallin on Lap 10 of 15. "I had to work for this one, so this was good," he said. "It feels good even though it was a bronze."
It was a rough day for three other former SnoCross medalists. T.J. Gulla, who recently returned to racing after taking a year off due to a severe head injury, crashed out of the last chance qualifier on Lap 1 while battling for the lead. Brett Turcotte, the 2008 silver medalist, held down the final transfer spot in the LCQ before his handlebars broke loose and he pulled out. In the final, Ryan Simons, last year's bronze medalist, said a competitor's sled broke in front of him and, while he said he didn't crash, he had to "check-up." He pulled out because he said his left heel felt broken.
At eight-tenths of a mile, the 2011 WX SnoCross course was twice as long as last year's and the longest since 2007, when it was three-quarters of a mile. Hibbert's lap times averaged just above 60 seconds.
Hibbert now has 10 overall Winter X medals in SnoCross. He is tied for third on the all-time WX medal list with Barrett Christy and Jon Olsson.
In the Adaptive SnoCross final, Mike Schultz, the overwhelming favorite, trounced Jeff Tweet and Jim Wazny by 42 seconds. Schultz, an amputee, is a former professional SnoCross racer with six prior appearances at Winter X before he lost his leg in 2008. The adaptive class was introduced in 2010. In addition to being proud of his Winter X medals (he also has a gold in XG Super X), Schultz takes pride in knowing that he's helping other athletes through clinics and building prosthetic legs, which he calls the Moto Knee. "I know the feeling I get when I can get out there and do the things I love to do," he said. "I love helping the guys get out there so they can do the same things I do and push the limits."
Doug Henry took the lead off the start on his four-stroke Yamaha but was quickly passed by Schultz. Henry, a para-athlete, arrived with a special seat that allowed him to lean in the turns. He was in contention for his second consecutive medal before the buckle on his chair broke. He finished sixth.
Check full results here.