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December 12, 2013, CANMORE, Alta. (ISN) – Brian McKeever will head into the critical Olympic and Paralympic qualifying block of his season with back-to-back gold medals in his pocket from the first-ever IPC World Cup on his home track in Canmore, Alta.

McKeever, 34, led the world’s best down the Nordic highways of the Canmore Nordic Centre where he clocked a golden time of 54:55.4 in the men’s 20-kilometre classic-ski race, which is serving as one of his final tune-up races for the Canadian Olympic trials in the new year.

“It was a good day. I think the key thing is that we develop a game plan and it is working,” said the 10-time Paralympic medallist. “My fitness is there and I am feeling great with where things are at right now.”

Competing without his guide Eric Carleton for the second straight race who was out with illness, McKeever took on many of the world’s best para-skiers on Thursday including the powerful Russian team.

Stanislav Chokhlaev and his guide Maksim Pirogov, of Russia, skied to the silver medal with a time of 55:22.8, while Russia’s Vladimir Udaltcov and Rusian Bogachev teamed up to win the bronze medal after punching the clock at 58:12.8.

“It was a good tight race today to the finish,” said McKeever. “I was coming into the final corner and a guy fell on me which spun me around. That happens when you have a bunch of blind guys skiing. I’m happy I had opened it up a bit though.”

In his quest to qualify once again for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, McKeever will continue his trail to Sochi by competing in the Haywood NorAms in Rossland, B.C. this weekend as a final preparation race before Cross Country Canada holds its Olympic Trials at the Canmore Nordic Centre, January 8-12, 2014.

Earlier in the day, Canada’s eight-time Paralympic medallist Colette Bourgonje finished fifth in the women’s 10-kilometre sit-ski race. The Saskatoon resident clocked a time of 34:47.3. Norway’s Mariann Marthinsen set the time to beat at 33:17.3.

Chis Klebl, of Canmore, Alta., finished seventh in the men’s 13.3 kilometre sit-ski race with a time of 39:27.5. The men’s sit-ski race was won by Russia’s Irek Zaripov who stopped the clock at 38:06.3.

More than 110 athletes representing 12 countries will compete in six International Paralympic Committee World Cup races that will serve as a critical qualifying event for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

The IPC World Cup continues on Saturday at the Canmore Nordic Centre with the biathlon competitions.

For more information and complete results including each of the 19 Canadians entered, please visit the event web site at www.albertaworldcup.com

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 58,000 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,. 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 www.cccski.com.