—Colette Bourgonje skis to fourth, Mark Arendz and Chris Klebl place fifth—
CANMORE, Alta.—Canada’s Brian McKeever began the Paralympic season in a familiar spot – on top of the podium.
The 34-year-old McKeever welcomed the top Para-Nordic athletes on the planet to his hometown of Canmore, Alberta for the first ever IPC World Cup at the Canmore Nordic Centre. The 10-time Paralympic medallist led the deep international field around one of the toughest Nordic centres in the world where he went on to post a golden time of 26:21.1 in the men’s 10-kilometre visually impaired skate-ski race.
“I thought I may have went out too hard so I eased up a bit in the middle, but tried to really hammer it home,” said McKeever. “It felt pretty good today. The fitness is there. The course had some really nice features so I’m happy.”
Home track advantage was key for McKeever on Monday as his guide, Erik Carleton, was ill and unable to race.
“The wind was pretty strong in some sections so it would have been nice to have Erik there to pull me around a bit,” added McKeever. “Knowing the trail helped me a lot today, and Mark Arendz guided me around in the warm-up so it all worked out. This is a really solid field and everyone is focused on Sochi. I’m happy with how things went.”
Russia’s Stanislav Chokhlaev, and guide, Maksim Pirogov skied to the silver medal at 26:45.2. Mikolay Polukhin and Andrey Tokarev, also of Russia, teamed up for the bronze after punching the clock at 27:02.0.
Meanwhile, Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I., also suited up in the men’s standing division. The 23-year-old biathlon specialist put down a solid effort in the cross-country ski discipline with a fifth-place finish at 27:47.9 against a deep field at the IPC World Cup season opener.
Russia’s Sergey Lapkin won the men’s standing division with a time of 27:10.7.
Earlier in the day, eight-time Canadian Paralympic medallist, Colette Bourgonje, narrowly missed the podium in the women’s five-kilometre sit-ski race. The Saskatoon resident placed fourth at 22:02.7. The women’s sit-ski event was won by Norway’s Mariann Marthinsen who set the time to beat at 20:54.3.
Chis Klebl, of Canmore, Alta., also enjoyed a solid outing despite not grabbing a medal. Klebl finished fifth in the men’s 10-kilometre sit-ski race after clocking-in at 31:50.5. The men’s sit-ski category was won by Russia’s Grigory Murygin with a time of 30:46.9.
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 Tuesday at the Canmore Nordic Centre and runs through to December 17, 2013.
For more information and complete results including each of the 19 Canadians entered, please visit the event web site at www.albertaworldcup.com.
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