Snowmobile snocross kicks off Winter X Games |

Snowmobile snocross kicks off Winter X Games

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Mike Schultz of St. Cloud, Minnesota, heads for victory and the first gold medal of the 2016 Winter X Games at Buttermilk. He won the adaptive snowmobile snocross Thursday.
Jeremy Wallace / The Aspen Times |

Snowmobile snocross raced back into the Winter X Games lineup Thursday, just in time to kick off the 2016 extravaganza at Buttermilk Mountain.

Dave Schultz of St. Cloud, Minnesota, won the first gold medal of the 2016 Games when he prevailed in the adaptive snocross race, tasting sweet redemption after suffering an injury in the 2015 Winter X Games.

An hour later, Tucker Hibbert rewrote X Games history when he won his ninth consecutive gold medal in snowmobile snocross.

Hibbert matched the record for consecutive golds as he won his 14th total Winter X games medal.

“I’ve got to give it up to my whole team,” said Hibbert, who is from Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. “Two hole shots today made the difference.”

Hibbert, riding on a Arctic Car, broke to the front immediately in his heat race; he did the same in the finals.

“A nine-peat … it’s hard to even believe,” Hibbert said. “It’s so much fun to put on a show for these fans.”

Second place in snowmobile snocross went to Adam Renheim of Lima, Sweden.

The bronze medal went to Corin Todd of Otego, New York.

Renheim rode a Ski-Doo; Todd rode at Polaris.

“The biggest challenge I was facing out there was the ice,” Hibbert said. “It was super slippery on the turns.”

He said the track was challenging … “really challenging mentally.”

Schultz returned to the top of the Winter X Games podium in the adaptive snocross this year, leading from the start.

The Winter X gold brought a huge smile to Schultz’s face.

“This was amazing. It’s been a really long year, for me,” Schultz said. “My ankle injury (from the last Winter X Games) put me out for about six or seven months.”

He said he started on a motocross bike in the summer.

“I’m not quite 100 percent, but plenty good to get on the snow machine and win gold here,” said Schultz, who is one of the foremost prosthetic designers in the world. He designed his own competition prosthesis.

Six months out of competition was tough, he said.

“But I got a lot of work done in the office. That was the positive that came out of it,” he said of the hours he spent in front of his computer.

He said the X Games provided his initial momentum after he suffered his left leg injury, forcing him into the adaptive division.

“That was my motivation when I was injured in 2008,” Schultz said.

Paul Thacker of Anchorage, Alaska, won the silver medal Thursday in adaptive snowmobile snocross, his first Winter X medal in his nine years competing in Aspen.

Third place went to E.J. Poplawski of Rutland, Vermont.

The last time the snowmobile snocross was held at the Winter X Games in Aspen was 2013 when Tucker Hibbert won.

The Winter X Games will continue through Sunday at Buttermilk. Friday’s schedule will open with the women’s snowboard slopestyle at 10 a.m. The women’s ski slopestyle also is on the Friday calendar, set for 12:30 p.m.

The featured snowmobile freestyle is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, followed by the women’s ski superpipe and the snowboard big air competition.

The Friday night concert, at 9:30 p.m., will feature Twenty One Pilots.