SURNADAL, Nor.—Canada’s para-nordic squad proudly tied in two gold medals and one silver into their St. Patrick’s Day wardrobe at the opening day of the IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway on Tuesday.
Chris Klebl powered his way to the gold medal in the men’s sit-ski category, will Brian McKeever and his guide Erik Carleton continued their unbeaten streak in 2015 by winning the men’s visually impaired distance race. National Team rookie, Brittany Hudak, completed the trip to the podium for the Canucks by winning the silver medal in the women’s standing race.
Klebl, of Canmore, Alta., took advantage of the warm conditions to hold off his top international rivals in the men’s 15-kilometre sit-ski race. The 43-year-old reigning Paralympic champion clocked a golden time of 40:24.0.
“I am definitely a fan of spring racing with the longer, warmer days,” said Klebl. “The racing this week is during the timeframe of the Paralympic Games so it is also good to see that our training plan has me skiing fast now. I have one race left to see how the overall standings for the year shake out and I’m looking forward to it.”
Two Russian athletes joined Klebl on the podium. Aleksandr Davidovich won the silver with a time of 40:25.3, while Alexey Bychenkov claimed the bronze medal with a time of 41:21.8.
Brian McKeever and his guide Erik Carleton continued their unbeaten streak this year after skiing to the top of the men’s 20-kilometre cross-country skate-ski race.
The 35-year-old McKeever, of Canmore, Alta., and Carleton, hammered the field to clock a time 48:38.5.
A winner of 13 medals, including 10 gold, in four trips to the Paralympics, McKeever and his Calgary-based childhood friend, Carleton, have been nearly perfect since teaming up with each other for the World Championships four years ago. The dynamite duo also teamed up to win two golds at the 2014 Paralympics. McKeever won his third gold with Graham Nishikawa.
Russia’s Stanislav Chokhlaev was the next best finisher with a time of 53:21.3. Anatolii Kovalevskyi, of the Ukraine, clocked-in at 55:00.5 for the bronze medal.
Winning the silver medal, it was a bittersweet day in the women’s 15-kilometre skate-ski standing race for Brittany Hudak. The 21-year-old from Prince Albert, Sask. enjoyed fast skis to win the silver medal with a time of 44:35.8.
“It is a mixture of shock and happiness today,” said Hudak. “It was great to beat the Ukraine girl who was third for the first time so I was thrilled with that. I had been feeling tired heading into the race so I was focused on my technique and skiing as efficiently as possible. Once I started the race, it became clear that my skis were really fast so I pushed hard and enjoyed the experience.”
Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova captured the women’s standing gold with a time of 42:18.9. Liudmyla Liashenko, also of the Ukraine, grabbed the bronze at 44:49.8.
The IPC Nordic World Cup Finals continue on Wednesday with the biathlon short distance races.
CCC 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 60,000 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, Mackenzie Investments and Statoil – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, CCC develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on CCC, please visit us at www.cccski.com