Canada’s Brian McKeever and his guide, Graham Nishikawa, battled to the silver medal in the men’s 15-kilometre visually-impaired skate-ski race on Friday in Lillehammer, Norway.
McKeever (Canmore, Alta.) and Nishikawa (Whitehorse) were knocked off the top step of the podium for just the third time in the last two years after clocking a time of 37:38.4.
“The body was just too tired today. There was just no ability to go,” said the 40-year-old McKeever. “We followed the game plan. We started conservatively, and were on pace to win, but when we had to pick it up, it went the other way.”
After skiing in second place after the first lap, the Canadians took the lead for the middle portion of the race but dropped back into the silver medal position in the final charge to the finish line.
“Nish (Graham) was trying to pick it up, and I just couldn’t with him and then we started bleeding time,” added McKeever. “I tried to find places to push, but there was just nothing. It is frustrating when you fall apart.”
The Canadians finished behind Russia’s Stanislav Chokhlaev, who stopped the clock at 37:21.3 for the win.
“I don’t hate getting beat and it is good to have guys pushing us but I hate getting beat when I beat myself,” said McKeever. “I had a good race today, and put in the effort that I had, I just had nothing more to give.”
Russia’s Oleg Ponmarev skied to the bronze-medal step of the podium with a time of 38:29.3.
Canada’s two male sit skiers were also in action at the Birkebeineren Ski Stadium. Collin Cameron, of Sudbury, Ont., finished in eighth place in the 10-kilometre race with a time of 31:46.9. Derek Zaplotinsky, of Smoky Lake, Alta., placed 16th (33:43.1).
Russia’s Ivan Golubkov was the top male sit-skier with a time of 28:12.1.
Natalie Wilkie was the lone Canadian woman to suit up on Friday. The 18-year-old from Salmon Arm, B.C. skied steady in eighth place throughout each of her five laps around the three-kilometre loop to finish with a time of 50:48.8
Norway’s Vilde Nilsen won the classification with a time of 46:19.3.
Following a day off, the Para-Nordic World Cup will resume on Sunday in Norway with the relay events.