Canadian para-nordic skiers open World Cup season with a bang

December 12, 2016

(December 12, 2016) Led by a triple medal performance by Mark Arendz and a gold by Brian McKeever, Canada’s para-nordic skiers enjoyed a solid start to the World Cup season this past weekend (Dec. 9-12) in Vuokatti, Finland.

McKeever, a 10-time Paralympic Games champion from Canmore, Alta., won the men’s sprint cross country classic for visually impaired in three minutes and 02.8 seconds ahead of Zebastian Modin of Sweden in second in 3:03.7 and Iurii Utkin of Ukraine third in 3:17.7.

“I’m happy, it was a good day,’’ said McKeever about his win on Dec. 9. ‘’The skis were great, the technicians did a good job and everyone is in good spirits.”

Arendz, a double medallist in Sochi 2014 from Hartsville, P.E.I., opened his weekend with a bronze in the standing sprint cross country classic on Dec. 9 then added a silver in both the standing biathlon sprint on Saturday Dec. 10 and the 15 kilometre biathlon distance event on Monday Dec. 12.

“There were a few things I can take away from the (Monday) race to work and improve on, but in the end, it was a solid day,” said Arendz, whose left arm was amputated above the elbow after a farming accident at age seven. “Neither the skiing nor the shooting were perfect, but I’m pleased they were strong enough to hold onto second place.”

Emily Young of Kelowna, B.C., added a bronze medal in the women’s cross country sprint on Friday Dec. 9 her first career medal on the World Cup circuit.

“What a day and great way to start the World Cup season,” said Young. “My goal was to ski the fastest and smartest race I could, and be happy with any result. The coaches and wax techs deserve credit. They were on top of their game and we had some of the best skis out on the course.’’

While the medals were pouring in overseas, World Para Nordic Skiing, Cross Country Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee announced on Dec. 9 that the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club in Prince George, B.C. had been chosen as host site for the 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships to be held in February 2019. More information click here.

Canada wins silver at World Sledge Hockey Challenge

The United States struck for five goals in the second period to defeat Canada's National Sledge Team 5-2 and win the gold medal at the 2016 World Sledge Hockey Challenge Saturday Dec. 10.

It’s the third straight gold medal for the Americans at the event, and fifth overall. Canada settled for silver for the fourth time.

Liam Hickey (St. John’s, N.L.) and Brad Bowden (Orton, Ont.) scored for Canada. 

Charron named Canada’s top para-soccer player

Samuel Charron was named 2016 Canadian Para Soccer Player of the Year Friday Dec. 9. The 18-year old international footballer from Ottawa was honoured with the selection made by the Canada para soccer coaching staff.

"Sam stepped up at the very young age in 2016 and played the role of a leader at the IFCPF Qualification Tournament in Denmark," said Drew Ferguson, Canada Soccer's Para Soccer Head Coach. "With some of our experienced leaders out through injury, we gave Sam the captain's armband and he fulfilled the role both on and off the field."

Charron was Most Valuable Player of the IFCPF Qualification Tournament in July and August, helping Canada clinch a spot for next year's 2017 IFCPF World Championships. In only six matches, he scored an incredible 15 goals and five assists, including back-to-back-to-back hat tricks in the first three matches.

"Our para soccer team is in very good hands with Samuel Charron in a leadership role," said Ferguson.