Canadian Ryan Simons wins X-Games GOLD
Ryan Simons only had an hour of practice on a freshly built sled before the races started in the newly re-introduced Hillcross event at X Games 2015, in Aspen.
Other than that, he was completely untrained and untested on the new sled. It was also an event that he’d never competed in before yet he came out on top with a gold medal. But if you think anyone can just show up and win an X Games Hillcross medal then think again. Competition is no stranger to this 33 year-old Alberta native and winning is something he’s been training his whole life to do.
Ryan started racing at a young age. Originally he raced on motos around his hometown of Camrose and eventually in his late teens it evolved to snowmobiles in the winter. Back then there was a provincial SnoCross circuit in Alberta and also one in Saskatchewan. “I always did pretty good in those circuits but the real breakthrough happened for me when I went to an indoor race in GrandForks. I ended up winning everything there and that’s when [Arctic] Cat picked me up. From there things really took off. The next year I lived fulltime in Chicago and I was top 2-3 in the world for SnoCross for a few years.”
Motivation is what makes a champion, according to Simons. “It all comes down to hard work. If you want to win you have to accept that you will have no life outside of racing.” Simons uses his friend, and winningest snocrosser of all-time, Tucker Hibbert as an example of the dedication needed to win races. “Everything he does from the start of his day to the end, is working towards the goal of being the best. I don’t know anyone who works as hard as he does.”
In winter 2015, X Games added Hillcross to its event schedule. The idea was to bring in backcountry and hillclimbing athletes to a new (re-introduced) event. The biggest difference between HillCross and SnoCross is that Hillcross requires longer tracks, it allows for modifications (turbos and superchargers), and the course goes up hill. There were a lot of unknowns at the event as no one who was entered to compete had ever done a race quite like this one. In the end, Ryan’s Snocross background combined with a finely tuned sled are what let him capture first place.
“Everything just went right for me at X Games. I had a silver and a bronze from previous X Games and I always said I wanted to complete the circle with a gold. I wanted it to be in SnoCross but I’ve accepted that I can no longer keep up with the young guys in that sport. To win the first HillCross was pretty amazing too.”
Will Ryan be back at X to defend his title? “You bet, that’s the plan anyways,” said Simon. “We learned a lot last year and I know we can be even faster going into next year.”