A Canadian Island bests Morgan in the snocross | AspenTimes.com

A Canadian Island bests Morgan in the snocross

Steve Benson
Aspen Times Staff Writer

There’s been a changing of the guard in snocross.

After three consecutive victories in the X Games event, Blair Morgan came up shy of a four-peat with the gold going to Mike Island of Barrie, Ontario.

“It’s a big-time bummer for sure,” said Morgan, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. “I got pushed off a little [in the start].”

For Island, the key was the start. He immediately shot out into the lead at the beginning and was never challenged.

“I knew if I got passed, I’d let all the boys down,” he said.

Trailing Island in the race’s early phases was Levi LaVallee of Longville, Minn. Meanwhile, a battle was brewing between Morgan and Tucker Hibbert, from Lake Elsinore, Calif.

Morgan eventually edged out Hibbert and was challenging LaVallee when the two got tangled up on the fourth lap. That opened the door for Hibbert, who slid into second, where he would eventually finish.

“When they got tangled up together, it gave me a break,” Hibbert said.

A couple laps later, LaVallee lost control of his sled and crashed, and Morgan, who avoided the fallout from the wreck, cruised into third for the bronze.

Despite taking home a silver, Hibbert wasn’t pleased.

Placed on the far outside of the pack at the start, he was wedged nearly off course in the beginning of the race after making contact with another sledder.

“I got pushed out early,” he said. “[The start] is real key.

“The guy that won wasn’t the fastest racer on the course,” he added, referring to Island.

Island disagreed.

“I knew I had the speed,” he said. “I came into the weekend with tons of confidence, I knew I could do it ” we came prepared.

“It was all mine.”

The gold was Island’s first medal in the X Games in three attempts. Two years ago, he failed to qualify, and last year he finished fourth.

“I’m hysterical,” he said.

Morgan’s inability to seal the deal on four in a row was overshadowed by his past accomplishments. In a sport that’s notorious for bad luck and massive crashes, the fact Morgan won three golds in a row is incredible.

Ziggy Poteralski, a mechanic for racer Danny Poirier of Valcourt, Quebec, said a lot of the races are decided by sheer luck. Poirier failed to qualify after another sledder crashed into him in the preliminaries.

“It’s all part of it,” he said. “It’s a risk.

“Danny rode very well, and not everybody can win.”

Said Poirier: “It’s a race.”

Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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