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SJUSJOEN, Nor.-Canada's Brian McKeever and Erik Carleton teamed up to win their first-ever IPC World Cup race together in a 10-kilometre classic-ski race in Sjusjoen Norway on Sunday.
The childhood ski friends growing up in Calgary, who won three silver medals in as many races this week, finally climbed onto the top step of the podium together after clocking thefastest time of the day at 27:38.2 in the men's visually impaired category.
"We have been doing a lot of skate racing so it was nice to change the technique and get this one," said the 32-year-old McKeever. "I think we still have a little advantage over some of the guys in classic racing. The key to winning is to exploit your strengths and others weaknesses and we did that today."
The track to the podium was anything but easy for the Canadian duo. Battling fatigue from a long period of racing in Europe and blowing conditions, McKeever relied heavily on the 33-year-old Carleton to find the quickest line to the finish.
"Erik pulled really hard at the front in some pretty strong headwinds," said McKeever. "He worked hard crossing between tracks to find the fastest line and did an awesome job for me today."
The Canadians were sandwiched on the podium by two Russian teams. Nikolay Polukhin and Andrey Tokarev skied to the silver medal at 28:50.6, while Stanislav Chokhlaev andMaksim Pirogov were third with a time of 29:39.9.
McKeever has become of the most accomplished para-nordic skiers in the world since being diagnosedwith Stargaards disease in 1998. Brian, along with his longtime guide and brother Robin, has won 10 Paralympic medals including seven gold in his three trips to the Paralympics.
Brian leaned on Carleton to guide him to three victories at the 2011 IPC World Championships when Robin was sidelined with an ACL injury last year. A 1998 Olympian, Robin is now the head coach of the Canadian Para-Nordic Team. Regardless of the guide, the younger McKeever has worked tirelessly to win everything on the table in para-nordic skiing.
"We have trained more than 800 hours this year which is right up there with able-bodied skiers," said McKeever. "Winning isn't easy as we saw this week (finishing second three times in a row) so we have to keep working hard because it hasn't been enough so far."
Two other Canadians also suited up on Sunday. Colette Bourgonje, of Saskatoon, finished seventh in the women's five-kilometre sit-ski race. Mark Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I., who won a gold, silver and bronze medal in biathlon races this week, finished 11th in the men's 10-kilometre standing class.
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