With only two losses the entire season, his eighth ISOC Pro Open Championship title, a seventh-consecutive X Games gold medal, and several incredible come-from-behind finishes, last weekend Tucker Hibbert completed one of the most remarkable seasons in snocross history.
"I've had a lot of success in my career and the last three or four years have been really good, but this one was extra special," Hibbert said, a few days after clinching his eighth season title with wins in all three main events at the ISOC Grand Finale in Lake Geneva, Wisc. over the weekend. "It's going to be hard to top this season."
Indeed. Hibbert won 15 out of 17 events on the 2014 Amsoil Championship Snocross circuit, occasionally lapping all or most of his field of competitors in finals. In January he surpassed his hero Blair Morgan's career win record, then kept right on going with one of the biggest wins of his life, taking his seventh consecutive X Games gold and setting a new record for the most in a row for a Winter X Games athlete. Next up? With 95 career national pro wins he's on track to pass 100 in the coming year, an astounding accomplishment in any sport.
Hibbert is more humble than all that, however, and doesn't want to get too hung up on such milestones.
"With racing there's so much that goes on, so many things that can throw you off, and so many things that are out of your control, that you have to keep your expectations in check," he said. "I've just got to keep focusing on each weekend, each race. But winning is motivating, obviously, and those goals are definitely out there: 100 wins. A perfect season. The wins are fun and you want to keep them coming every time."
He was just 15 years old when he made his X Games debut, winning his first gold medal and announcing his presence loud and clear. His dad, Snocross legend Kirk Hibbert, was in that final and finished fifth. Hibbert says he was running on rookie enthusiasm back then. Now, 14 years into his racing career, Hibbert says experience -- his own, his dad's, and his team's -- is the secret to his ongoing success. That, and winning itself.
"When you win, it breeds momentum," Hibbert said. "You can't fail when you have so many great people working towards the same goal, and this year my team was amazing. We didn't have one single mechanical issue all season, and that's a huge feat in itself, just to be able to have that kind of trust in my equipment thanks to the support I have."
So, about those two races he didn't win?
"A perfect season is definitely something I think about and would like to have," Hibbert said. "Those two races were frustrating for sure, and not because I didn't win but because I can look back and honestly say the losses weren't due to any mistakes on my part, they weren't due to mechanical issues or anything in my team's control - it'd be one thing if I crashed or messed up -- they just had to do with other riders, both times."
According to Hibbert, some of his younger competitors are catching up quick, and he knows that the days of lapping the entire field might be coming to an end. To stay on top, he and his team are working year-round to make any adjustments they can think of to his sled and to his training regimen.
"We don't go into hibernation when the snow melts," he said.
Hibbert already has dirt on his mind and will be racing in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship this summer as well as some mountain bike races, but says he and his team will also remain 100 percent focused on the upcoming snocross season.
"This year I was stronger than I've ever been. Now I have to figure out how to get stronger still," Hibbert said.