Winter Wingman, Part I – Gabrielle Hockley
With the help of social media, the winter powersports world abounds with athletes and personalities who are constantly in the eye of the public. But what we don’t always see is the support system of these well-known riders—riding in the backcountry is not a solo sport after all. These snowmobiling celebrities have people they rely on to ride with and support them every step of the way.
These are the untold stories of the Winter Wingman.
When Gabrielle Hockley was three years old, her parents entered a draw for a Kitty Cat, and they won. She started sledding in the beautiful mountains of British Columbia that winter and her love for snowsports was born. Today, she is a familiar face in the sled community as part of the Polaris factory snowmobile team. But she’s not out there alone.
Meet Gabrielle Hockley's Winter Wingman – Isaac Hockley
Gabrielle met and connected with her husband and future Winter Wingman, Isaac Hockley, over a shared passion for watersports (wakeboarding and wake surfing).
“We always joke that he won my heart because he had a boat,” says Gabrielle. “Maybe this is partially true, but I would say it has more to do with our mutual interest in outdoor activities, which always seems to connect people.”
When the two met, Isaac had already done a bit of sledding, but he knew if he planned to put a ring on Gabrielle’s finger, it would have to become his regular winter activity. In fact, it was his interest and dedication to Gabrielle’s favourite winter sport that jump-started her professional career.
“Isaac is really the person that pushes me out of my comfort zone to try new things. Plus, he is a great photographer,” says Gabrielle.
The pair’s early sledding days were spent with Gabrielle’s family, and consisted of Isaac getting stuck and Gabrielle and her mother helping to dig him out while having a laugh at his expense—which he was a good sport about. The dynamic quickly changed as Isaac’s skills improved. Their winters are now spent sledding together in the steep and deep British Columbia backcountry, where Isaac shoots photos of Gabrielle riding.
Gabrielle continues to push her limits riding for Polaris, and Isaac stays by her side, capturing it all with his camera. She has become an ambassador for women in the community because of the time these two have put into the sport.
“I wanted to be involved in this industry as an ambassador for women in a male-dominated sport. It is so exciting to see how much it grown for women; I just can’t believe how many ladies I see out riding now,” says Gabrielle.
The Feeling is Mutual
While Isaac is the man behind the camera, Gabrielle holds up her end of the sledding relationship. She pulls her weight and his—on and off the sled deck.
“I usually load and unload our sleds. Isaac will often sit in the vehicle finishing up some business [both are real estate agents], while I unload. The looks we get from other guys in the parking lot is hilarious,” says Gabrielle.
“One time, we had this guy bang on the window and ask Isaac why I was the one unloading. Isaac just said, ‘Bro, wouldn’t you like it if your lady did all the unloading while you get to stay toasty warm?’ The guy gave Isaac a high five and laughed.”
The Importance of The Winter Wingman
When asked why she thinks winter wingmen are a critical piece of the backcountry puzzle, Gabrielle said, “I chose Isaac as my winter wingman because he is my wingman in all life things. He’s my business partner, photographer and biggest supporter.
“Choose someone who makes you feel safe in the backcountry, that you have the best time with and who motivates you to improve!”
Stay tuned to discover who the Winter Wingman of our next featured athlete will be!