Mauer, Parise, Vonn, and Whalen may get most of the headlines, but an argument could be made that, among native Minnesotans, the greatest professional athlete today is 30-year-old Pelican Rapids resident Tucker Hibbert. At least he’s certainly the most Minnesotan.
Hibbert is the world’s No. 1 ranked snocross athlete—the sport’s winningest athlete ever—a milestone he accomplished last winter aboard an Arctic Cat snowmobile, a piece of machinery beloved (and made) right here in his home state. To the legions of snowsuit-clad kids who line up for his autograph, he’s more famous than LeBron James.
So why haven’t you heard of him?
Because you’ve probably never heard of snocross: a high-octane snowmobile race over a short course of steep banks and big jumps—grown men in the snow doing with 500-pound vehicles…what a child in a sandbox does with toys. Man and machine fly 30 feet into the air, come crashing to earth in a flurry of snow and roaring engines, then careen toward the next big ramp. It’s equal parts spectacle and thrill show, its practitioners as much daredevils as athletes.
If snocross has a home state, it’s Minnesota, home to more registered snowmobilers than any other state. It’s also the launching point of snocross season, which begins every Thanksgiving weekend with a national tournament. Hibbert took the checkered flag this year, the 97th of his career. Thousands were on hand to witness the victory.
Hibbert downplays his own natural ability, crediting his team and his Arctic Cat. “It’s a combination of hard work, having the right people behind me, and having the right snowmobile,” he says. “As for me, I just keep trying to improve.”
See? Humble, too. Classic Minnesotan.