The last couple weekends have been busy for snowmobile enthusiasts in the James Bay region with two major cross-country races: one as part of the Festival Folifrets in Chibougamau on February 26 and the annual Mistissini Cross-Country on March 6-8.
The 49th edition of the Folifrets Festival and its cross-country snowmobile competition saw around 60 racers compete for $20,000 in prizes in Pro long track, Sport long track, Pro sprint, Sport sprint and a Vintage division for sleds built in the year 2000 or earlier.
The pro track for the event covered 345 km, starting and ending at the Centre de santé et des services sociaux de la Baie-James in Chibougamau, with relay stations at Mistissini, a Goldcorp site, Oujé-Bougoumou and kilometre 210 on route 167.
Dave Allard took home first place in Pro class, completing his race in 3:22:44 and rounding out the top five were Nigel Gunner, Benjamin Dufour, Jeremiah Capissisit and Conrad Mianscum.
In the sport division, the snowmobile-cross covered 185 kilometres and was completed in 2:29:30 by first place finisher Martin Paquet, followed by Jean-Claude Cooper, Patrick Lapointe, Simon Imbeault and Sebastien Neeposh. Eric Coon Come, Joseph Coon and Brian Coonishish finished in 6th, 8th and 10th position respectively with only 22:26 separating the top 10 competitors.
Sprint competition recorded the time it took the snowmobilers to cover the distance from the relay station at Oujé-Bougoumou back to Chibougamau and the Pro competition was again championed by Allard in a time of 1:06:30 with Gunner, Dufour, François Paré and Capissisit completing the top five. Patrick Lapointe won the Sport Sprint from the Gold Corp. relay station to Chibougamau in a time of 31:46, trailed by some familiar faces in Martin Paquet, Jean-Claude Cooper, Sebastien Neeposh and Eric Coon Come.
The Mistissini Cross-Country invitational event also offered some serious prize money to its competitors. Up to $17,000 in cash prizes were spread across a Men’s Open Pro/Semi Pro division, racing approximately 290 kilometres, and Men’s Open Fastest Sprint, based on the fastest lap time, as well as a Women’s Category and a division for beginners, covering roughly 72 kilometres.
Seven Cree competitors completed the course in Men’s Semi Pro/Pro action, with Conrad Mianscum taking first place, clocking in at 3:32:28. Brendon Coon placed second with a time of 3:35:34 and David Neeposh finished in third at 3:29:54 +8 minutes for a course infraction. Fourth to seventh consecutively went to Benoit Longchap, Sebastien Neeposh, Brien Coonishish and Mark Rabbitskin.
Winner of the Women’s Category was Laurie Ann Neeposh who completed the 72-km course in just over an hour and 20 minutes. Neeposh’s official time was 1:22:58 while Dorianne Bosum took second with a time of 1:26:14 and third-place Shania Maggie Mianscum only 41 seconds behind at 1:26:55. Anilya Coon and Jewels Coon Come also competed in the Women’s division, finishing fourth and fifth.
In the Men’s Beginners race, Jonah Coon was able to race past the finish line in under an hour, completing the 72 km in 56:49. Tyrone Longchap placed second with a time of 1:01:41; Jeremy Mattawashish was third at 1:10:14 and Kyle Neeposh fourth, registering a race time of 1:13:32.