The Ouje-Bougoumou Snowmobile Cross-Country Challenge 2019, held March 22-24, opened with an emotional tribute to the late Nathaniel Bosum, an avid snocross racer. The show of respect included a moment of silence followed by one of Nathaniel’s favourite songs.
His father, Grand Chief Abel Bosum, was on hand to participate in the ceremony, and held Nathaniel’s “789” banner during the proceedings.
The Grand Chief took to Facebook following the event to thank organizers. “My heart and soul wept as I thought of the many wonderful moments we shared as a family,” wrote Bosum. “Moments like these were times where he shined like the morning star! My family wishes to thank the Ouje-Bougoumou cross-country organizers.”
In the end, hometown racer and event organizer Jeremiah Capassisit took home the top prize in the men’s pro class division.
At the finish line Capassisit said the track was rough and full of large holes up to four feet long. He was in second place for most of the race then eventually took the lead in the last lap, 15 kilometres from the finish line.
“The last two laps I gave it a big push to catch up to the leader and I’m glad I did,” Capassisit said. “I’m very happy. I won in my hometown, first time in a while.”
Capassisit was not the only racer complaining of rough track conditions. Six out of the 12 men’s pro class racers were unable to finish.
QWoman’s pro class racer Kaitlin Bush also complained of bad track conditions. She was in 4th place and about to complete her second lap when her snowmobile broke down.
“I was doing fine, but when I got to the lake my shock broke and I had to leave my ski-doo over there,” Bush said. This was her second race in the women’s division this season.
Ouje-Bougoumou Public Safety Officer Peter Bosum said there were a few accidents during the three-day event but that everyone received the attention they needed. Two people had to be taken to Chibougamau by ambulance but their injuries were not serious.
This was the fourth year that Ouje-Bougoumou has hosted the race and Capassisit has been the head organizer since the beginning. He said the band approached him to start a race in Ouje due to the growing number of racing fans in the community.
“We noticed we had more racers every year,” Capassisit said. “Last year we had 99 racers compete and I’m sure we matched that this year. We have seven racers from Ouje; four years ago there were just two. This sport is growing and it’s only going to get bigger.”
The categories for this year included boys’ and girls’ classes, beginners women and men for first-time racers, men’s sport class and pro women and men.
Racing was a natural calling for Capassisit because he grew up watching his father, Walter, race. “I was seven years old when I first jumped on a machine and I’ve been riding ever since,” he said. He competed in his first race at the age of 12.
Capassisit has been racing for 18 years and said he still loves it. He enjoys how this event brings his community and its families together as well as snowmobilers from around the region.
“Every day you make new friends. Whenever you see a racer coming in and having a problem you’ll see other teams jumping in to help that team out. That’s basically why we do this, to have fun, show good sportsmanship and make new friends.”
David John Lameboy of Chisasibi was the winner of the 120cc category. In second and third were Shadrack Shecapio and Alayna Shecapio, both from Mistissini.
This year’s beginners class winner was Lazarus Coon Come with Seth Blacksmith in second place and Philip Cooper in third. All three were from Mistissini.
The winner of the men’s sports class division was Zechariah Neeposh, second place went to Kenneth Swallow and third to Terrance Ottereyes. All three racers are also from Mistissini.
The women’s beginners champion was Kelsey Neeposh of Mistissini with Amy Mianscum from Ouje-Bougoumou in second and Destiny Blacksmith in third also from Ouje-Bougoumou.
Savannah Shem from Chisasibi was the women’s champion. Hilda Mianscum from Mistissini was in second with Kelsey Neeposh of Ouje-Bougoumou come in third.
The winner of the professional men’s category was Jeremiah Capassisit. In second place was Francois Pare and in third was Sylvain Menard, both from Chibougamau.