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McKeever/Carleton strike gold, Klebl wins silver and Bourgonje claims bronze

VUOKATTI, Fin. (ISN) — Canada’s Para-Nordic athletes racked up a set of medals in distance races on Sunday at the IPC World Cup Finals in Vuokatti, Finland.

Brian McKeever and his guide, Erik Carleton, captured their second straight gold medal of the week, while Chris Klebl, of Canmore, Alta., claimed the silver, and Saskatoon’s Colette Bourgonje completed the medal hat trick after winning the bronze.

“The courses over here are really tough especially for Chris and Colette so we are really happy with the way things went today,” said Robin McKeever, head coach, Canadian Para-Nordic Team. “We all have the same goals here, and that is to win. Things worked out well today, and the athletes skied one of their best races of the year.”

McKeever, 32, and Carleton, 34 – who grew up together in Calgary and now live in Canmore, Alta., stomped the field in the men’s 30-kilometre classic-ski visually-impaired category. McKeever, who is one of the most accomplished Paralympians having accumulated 10 medals in three trips to the Paralympics, clocked a winning time of 1:19:44.7.

“The course is not like a World Cup course, but it does have really sustained gradual climbs,” said Brian McKeever. “I tried to put the hammer down on the climbs. The first climb we pushed hard and got a gap to prevent the field from drafting us. We were able to maintain that gap and kept increasing it where we could. Erik skied great again. We had a strategy and came in here and got it done.”

Russia’s Nikolay Polukhin and his guide, IIya Cherepanov, were the next fastest on the day at 1:22:10.0, while Aleksei Toropov and Sergey Maksimov, also of Russia, teamed up to win the bronze with a time of 1:28:01.1.

The track to the podium continued for Canada in the sit-ski races.

Chris Klebl, who broke his leg in November, grabbed his fifth podium finish of the season after claiming the silver in the men’s 20-kilometre sit-ski race. The 40-year-old Klebl clocked a time of 1:06:09.2.

Klebl finished just over one minute behind Romain Rosique, of France, who set the time to beat at 1:04:56.4. Russia’s Ramil Ilalutdinov rounded out the podium in third spot with a time of 1:06:26.9. Quebec’s Sebastien Fortier also suited up in the men’s sit-ski race where he finished 12th at 1:13:42.9.

Meanwhile, another one of Canada’s greatest Paralympians – Colette Bourgonje, battled her way to the bronze-medal step of the podium in the women’s 15-kilometre sit-ski race. The six-time winter Paralympian, and reigning World Champion, clocked-in at 57:57.4 in the challenging women’s field.

Bourgonje was joined on the podium by Lyudmyla Pavlenko, of Ukraine, who finished first at 55:53.7, and Norway’s Mariann Marthinsen in the silver-medal position at 56:43.8.

The Canadian squad will hit the start line again on Tuesday.

CrossCountry Canada 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 55,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams and Para-Nordic Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Teck Resources Ltd., Canadian Pacific, and Statoil – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and Own the Podium, Cross Country Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Cross Country Canada, please visit us at

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