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Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Updated: January 26, 9:12 AM ET
Ross Martin: Escaping the Shadow

Ross Martin won a silver medal in snowmobile snocross at WX14, and is hoping to improve this year.

Ross Martin is tired of tasting it -- the bitter flavor of finishing second to Tucker Hibbert, that is. Arguably the most talented rider in snocross racing today without the initials of T.H., Martin has never been close to beating Hibbert in a Winter X snocross final. Famously, no rider has in the past four years. Martin's silver medal in 2010 came after a very busy charge from ninth at the end of Lap 1. It was the last time the Kansasville, Wis., rider had the opportunity to race Hibbert until the 2010-11 season of the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross Series started in November. Five second-place finishes in six main events sum up Martin's year so far, while Hibbert remains undefeated.

Let's look deeper at the statistics from those six finals. Of the events run in ISOC Racing, Hibbert has not led a single lap within the first 10 laps. All finals have been between 18-25 laps. In the first four finals, Martin led 52 total laps to Hibbert's 20. Unfortunately for Martin and company, Hibbert has led the only lap that counts every single time, the final lap. Even after Martin's worst day of the season in Utah in early January (placed second and 11th), he has still led more laps than Hibbert. What does all this mean? "He's a tough competitor, but I think he can be beat," Martin said of Hibbert. "It's just a matter of time."

Ross Martin during Winter X practice.

It means, based on statistics alone, Hibbert is the overwhelming favorite for a fifth consecutive gold medal and Martin is a likely bet for silver. Martin has the confidence of knowing how it feels to lead a lot of laps, and even though he's never felt the pressure of being out front in a Winter X final, he at least understands how that stress works. "There is so much hype to the X Games," he said. "Everyone is pumped to do so well that they end up doing worse than they wanted to." Martin is a former three-time national snocross pro points champion with 18 wins. He has two Winter X snocross medals and, even though he has yet to bring Hibbert down head-to-head, Martin feels so strong and confident that he doesn't see the need to make any major changes for WX. He likes the program he's brought year after year and learned a lot from 2010. "It definitely boosted my confidence coming through the pack last year. I was pretty far back. One thing I need to work on this year is getting out front sooner."