March 18, 2013, Sochi, Rus (ISN) – Canada’s Brian McKeever and Erik Carleton made a statement to the world they will be the team to beat at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, winning their second straight cross-country ski race at the IPC World Cup Finals in Sochi, Russia on Monday.
The Canmore, Alta. friends handily took down the top para-Nordic skiers in the world in the 20-kilometre visually impaired classic-ski race, clocking a winning time of 58:48.3.
“Erik paced me perfectly today,” said the 33-year-old McKeever of his guide. “We caught our main rivals early and then held a steady pace throughout the race to stay comfortably ahead of them.”
Russia’s Nikolay Polukhin, and his guide Andrey Tokarev, posted the next fastest time in second place at 59:25.8. Stanislav Choklaev and Maxim Pirogov, also of Russia, struggled to a bronze-medal finish after chalking up a time of 1:01:21.1
Originally scheduled to be held on Saturday, the distance race was rescheduled to Monday after a severe windstorm wreaked havoc at the 2014 Paralympic Nordic venue – snapping trees and tearing apart tents at the site.
Conditions at the “Laura” Nordic venue were transformed into a winter wonderland with 25 centimetres of fresh snow overnight. New snow and warm temperatures made for a tough day for Canada’s wax techs.
“Our skis were really good today, and the coaches relayed good information on the course to us so this win was a real team effort,” added McKeever, who has 10 Paralympic medals on his resume including seven victories.
Three other Canadians also hit the start line on Monday. Chris Klebl, of Canmore, Alta., finished 12th in the men’s 15-kilometre sit-ski race. Klebl finished 2:43 off the leading pace set by Russia’s Ramil Ilalutdinov at 45:42.
Saskatoon’s Colette Bourgonje also suited up in women’s sit-ski race. The six-time Paralympian, and multiple Paralympic medallist, skied to sixth place – 2:07 behind winner Andrea Eskau, of Germany, who clocked a time of 42:58.0.
Ottawa’s Margarit Gorbounova and her guide Phil Wood, also competed in the women’s 15 kilometre visually impaired category where they finished well back of the leaders in seventh spot.
Live coverage of each medal event can be found at www.ParalympicSport.TV. Daily reports of all the action will also be published at www.ipc-nordicskiing.org
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games will take place between March 7-16, and are set to feature 700 athletes from 45 countries. Athletes will compete in five sports – alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling. Para- snowboard will make its Games debut as part of the alpine skiing programme.
Cross Country 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, AltaGas, Statoil and Canadian Pacific – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2ten, Cross Country Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Cross Country Canada, please visit us at www.cccski.com