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    • Brian McKeever Bounces Back to Win Gold at Para Nordic World Cup in Finland

      December 13, 2018

       
      VUOKATTI, Fin.—Canada’s most decorated Winter Paralympian, Brian McKeever, remained unbeaten in short distance cross-country ski racing on the IPC World Cup, following another golden performance on Thursday in Vuokatti, Finland.
      The 17-time-Paralympic medallist welcomed back his guide, Graham Nishikawa (Whitehorse) and some extra kick in the legs to put the hurt on the world’s best Para-Nordic skiers around the rare five-kilometre short-distance skate-ski race, clocking a time of 11:04.6 in the visually impaired category.
      “I felt like there was some jam today which was nice,” said the 39-year-old McKeever, who was sluggish in a silver-medal distance race yesterday. “I think having an extra day getting over the jet lag helped, but also having yesterday’s effort made a big difference on the body today.
      “The wax techs did an awesome job today. I could feel on the start line the skis just wanted to go. I knew I had the good racing skis today right away.”
      McKeever, of Canmore, Alta., skied Wednesday’s distance race without a guide as Nishikawa was nursing a back injury. His longtime friend, who guided McKeever at the last two Paralympics, led the veteran of the Canadian squad to the top of the podium while pulling him around the first 3.5 kilometres of the hard-packed, relatively flat course.
      “Having Nish (Graham Nishikawa) back today was massive,” said McKeever. “We were able to share the work. Once he blew up, he let me go on my own for the final two climbs before leading me into the finish. We were making huge time on the field going up the hardest climbs. Without a guide today, I wouldn’t have been able to pull out the win.”
      The Canadians topped Sweden’s Zebastian Modin who skied to the silver with a time of 11:16.8. Oleksandr Kazik, of the Ukraine, was third at 11:31.8.
      Teenager, Natalie Wilkie of Salmon Arm, B.C., finished as the top Canadian in women’s racing. Wilkie, who racked up a set of medals at her first Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, put in a solid effort to finish fourth at 6:46.2 in a 2.5 kilometre skate-ski race.
      Wilkie finished just four seconds off the podium pace.
      Norway’s Vilde Nilsen set the time to beat at 6:24.2. Two athletes from the Ukraine grabbed the silver and bronze medals. Liudmyla Liashenko was seconds at 6:25.2, while Oleksandra Kononova was third fastest in Finland with a time of 6:42.6.
      Vancouver’s Emily Young placed ninth at 7:10.2.
      Collin Cameron, of Sudbury, Ont., finished seventh in the men’s five-kilometre sit ski race with a time of 15:25.2, while Derek Zaplotinsky, of Smokey Lake, Alta., placed 10th (15:51.2).
      The IPC World Cup continues on Saturday in Finland with the first biathlon race.
       
      CCC is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 60,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Swix and Lanctôt Sports– along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, CCC develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on CCC, please visit us at www.cccski.com.