On the heels of his first victory of the season on the IPC World Cup, Brian McKeever skied to the silver medal in the men’s 20-kilometre cross-country skate-ski race in Obberied, Germany.
Fighting through a punishing distance course that features a massive climb in each of the five, four-kilometre loops, McKeever and his guide Graham Nishikawa (Whitehorse), stopped the clock at 42:36.3 for second place in the visually impaired classification.
“We skied okay, but we are just not firing on all cylinders,” said the 38-year-old McKeever. “Graham set a pace we felt we could be consistent with, but in the end, if there was a chance to pick it up neither of us could. Graham pulled off to let me go on my own at the end, but I had nothing. We were both maxed out.”
Arriving one day before the opening weekend of races in Germany, the Canadian duo battled jet lag in their first two races while taking on a strong international field.
“We are pretty cooked right now, but there is no need to hit the panic button. It is a long way to go until we get to Korea so this is a good set of training races for us, and a chance to see where everyone else is at. I think we are in very good shape and in a good place,” said McKeever.
“Today the course was rock hard and icy. It was fast on the downhills and we just weren’t really able to make up any time on the rest of the field.”
Neutral athlete, Stanislav Chokhlaev, was the first Para Nordic skier to top the 13-time Paralympic medallist this quadrennial, winning with a time of 42:18.4. Nikolai Polukhin, also a Neutral athlete, rounded out the visually impaired podium with a third-place time of 44:15.6.
In the men’s standing classification, Mark Arendz backed up his career-best cross-country ski classic race with a fifth-place finish on Sunday. Arendz, of Hartsville, P.E.I., completed the five-lap course in a time of 45:15.5.
Benjamin Daviet, of France, won the division with a time of 42:41.4. Ihor Reptyukh, of the Ukraine, was second at 42:44.4, while Neutral athlete, Vladi Lekomtsev, claimed the bronze medal at 44:07.8.
Emily Young, of Kelowna, B.C., also finished fifth in the women’s standing division. A winner of five bronze medals this year, Young skied steady throughout the 15-kilometre skate-ski race to finish with a time of 47:37.0.
Neutral athlete, Ekaterina Rumyantseva, won with a time of 42:49.2.
Brittany Hudak, of Prince Albert, Sask., was seventh at 49:55.4.
National Development Team member, Derek Zaplotinsky of Smokey Lake, Alta., was the top Canuck in a deep men’s 15-kilometre sit-skiing race. Zaplotinsky had the best race of his short career to finish in seventh spot after stopping the clock at 42:11.8. Chris Klebl, of Canmore, Alta., placed ninth at 42:29.8, while Collin Cameron, of Sudbury, Ont., was 13th (43:18.4).