For Silas Neeposh, standing atop the podium at recent cross-country snowmobile competitions has become a bit of a family affair.
He won the Pro-category event at the Wemindji Cross-Country Snowmobile Challenge and the Mistissini Big Rock Cross Country Challenge on consecutive weekends February 16 and 23. At both races he was joined atop the standing by another Neeposh.
In Wemendji, Silas finished the second day of the six-lap race with a time of 4:03:52 and was followed by distant relative Sebastian Neeposh, who finished third with a time of 4:46:18.
The following weekend in hometown Mistissini, it was first cousin Zechariah Neeposh winning second place and standing next to him in the winner’s circle.
“We’ve been together for years in numerous sports – hockey, motocross,” Neeposh told the Nation. “It’s definitely a special moment when you get to share that honour with a relative up there with you.”
However, the first and second place finishes for the Neeposh cousins in Mistissini wasn’t without controversy.
Zechariah, who intends to turn pro next season, started the race in the amateur Sport category. He was bumped into the Pro category when he garnered the second fastest time of any racer on the trail that weekend.
“The race committee came together after the race and decided to allow it and I’m for it,” Silas asserted. “It’s the same trail, done at almost the same time. It’s something I think that should be done at every event. It will be good for the sport.”
Unfortunately, Silas couldn’t three-peat at the 54th edition of the Festival Folifrets, Chibougamau’s cross country snowmobile event on February 29. Along with almost half of the pro field, he ended the race with a DNF (Did Not Finish) because of an issue with his sled’s clutch.
“That was a tough pill to swallow,” acknowledged Silas. “There’s a lot of history there. The Festival Folifrets is definitely one of the races you want to finish in the season.”
When asked if there was a secret to his recent success, Silas believes it’s simply a matter of hard work, dedication and endurance.
“Most people think the season is two months, but actually it’s year-round,” he argued.
Silas, who has a full-time job, said that when he’s not at work he tries to be on the sled during the winter, though he admits that after January it’s tough to find practice time. In the off-season he makes it a point to maintain his cardio with daily jogs as well as working on his grip strength. Meanwhile, most nights during the racing season are spent in the garage.
“At every race this year the track condition starts out great, but as you do more laps, it starts to deteriorate,” he explained. “After every race there’s an issue with your sled. It’s unavoidable.”
He also noted that conditions in Mistissini made going back to work on Monday particularly difficult.
“The Monday after that race was the Mondayest Monday ever,” laughed Neeposh. “Doing 550 kilometres over two days, four hours a day, on a 600-pound machine, takes a toll on your body.”
And though he only turned pro three years ago, Silas has spent his whole life around the sport.
“I played hockey when I was younger. When hockey wrapped up, I started getting serious about racing,” he said. “My dad has been a snowmobile racer his whole life, and because of that I kind of grew up in the sport.”
Looking ahead, Silas said his goal for the rest of the season is to finish every race and hopefully make a few more podiums. The next opportunities to do so are in Ouje-Bougoumou March 7, and in Nemaska March 14.
“More than anything I just want everyone to be safe out there and not see any more injuries,” Silas concluded. “I want to thank my sponsors, the event organizers and the fans for coming out to support us.”