Tucker Hibbert, 33, raced snowmobiles for 25 years and did it professionally for more than half his life before announcing last week he was retiring as a professional snocross racer.
So what does a still relatively young and elite athlete retiring while still at the pinnacle of his sport have planned for retirement?
Well, probably a lot of snowmobiling, for starters.
“I assume I’ll ride snowmobiles more than I ever had,” said Hibbert, a Minnesotan who grew up in Thief River Falls and now lives in Pelican Rapids. “I never had time to just go ride. And when I did have free time, the last thing I wanted to do was go ride because that was all I ever did. I’ll be able to enjoy it and have time to do it now.”
Time is something Hibbert seldom had for as long as he can remember. He won the first of 10 X Games gold medals when he was 15, and from there he launched a career that concluded this past winter with his 11th Pro Championship title.
Hibbert’s father, Kirk, raced snowmobiles professionally into his early 40s — long enough, Tucker Hibbert said, that the father earned the right to give his son a hard time lately for complaining about feeling like an old man.
But the younger Hibbert could sense it was time.
“I’ve just been kind of knowing my career was winding down for the last couple years,” Hibbert said. “I’m feeling like I’m ready to switch gears. At the end of the season, I thought about how the year went, how I was feeling. It felt like the right time.”
That said, right now feels a little strange to Hibbert. Normally, he said, he and his team would be “chasing snow” in Montana or some other high-altitude location and working on testing for the upcoming winter.
“It’s pretty crazy to be wide open all day, every day,” Hibbert said. “Racing snowmobiles is six months of competing, but every single day is about trying to figure out how to be better as an athlete and a racer. It’s about getting equipment ready. Race season is craziest. That falls on me. I had a great team, but I carry the weight of whether we’re successful.”
Retirement is about downshifting, and Hibbert readily admits he’s not quite sure what that will entail. But he’s going out on top, with his health intact, with plenty of time ahead of him to enjoy the next chapter.
“Now I’m challenged with figuring that part of my life out,” Hibbert said.
So maybe some luxurious vacations to warm-weather destinations as a start when the cold weather hits?
“We’ve always had racing that keeps us distracted from the cold even though we’re always out there. I won’t miss the days of 20 or 40 below zero when we had to practice and test,” Hibbert said. “But my wife [Mandi] and I are not huge vacation people, so I think at least for a few years enjoy Minnesota winters. We’ll do some cross-country skiing.”
“And recreational snowmobiling,” Hibbert added.