Rivals do battle in final event of Winter X Games
There were 10 racers in Tuesday night’s snocross final – the last event of Winter X Games Nine. But it was clear right from the start that only two were competing for the final gold medal to be awarded.They were Blair Morgan – known as the best and most influential racer in the sport’s history – and Tucker Hibbert – Morgan’s chief rival who chose to leave the sport in order to pursue a career in motocross. Once a year these two come together in what is almost always the highlight of the season. And Tuesday was no exception.
Right out of the gate it was Morgan, of Prince Albert, Canada, who darted to the front and Hibbert, of Centreville, Miss., followed close behind. The gap between Hibbert and the rest of the field widened at a constant pace until it was evident that it was a two-man race. It was the race every one of the 9,150 in attendance came to see.And when all was said and done Morgan held off Hibbert the entire way for his fourth snocross gold. It was sweet redemption following last year’s third-place finish that saw Michael Island break Morgan’s streak of three golds in a row.
“The fourth gold feels great,” said Morgan, who has won a medal every year since 1999 for a total of seven. “I won the hole shot and stayed out in front the whole way. I felt Tucker on my heels the entire time.”Hibbert finished with a silver for the second consecutive year, upping his medal total to one gold, three silver and a bronze.”I had no idea what to expect because I haven’t been racing,” Hibbert said. “I was really nervous. I had a blast racing Blair and I think we have created a nice rivalry. I was happy to make the podium.”
Steve Martin of Evanston, Wyo., whose previous best was 26th, finished third to earn his first Winter X medal in snocross to go with a silver and a bronze in hillcross.”I had a great weekend of racing,” Martin said. “I’m only 20 so I’m here to stay.”
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A ski season surrounded with uncertainty kicks off on Wednesday. The six inches of new snowfall Tuesday will allow opening of an additional 62 acres on Aspen Mountain, bringing opening-day total to about 160 acres.