To move forward, Brian McKeever knows he must let go of the past.
That is easier said than done for the visually impaired cross-country skier whose dream of racing at the Winter Games was shattered when the coaching staff made the decision not to let him compete in an event he had qualified for, the gruelling 50-kilometre race.
Burying his Olympic disappointment won't be simple, but McKeever hopes winning medals at the upcoming Paralympics will help ease the hurt.
"The important thing is for it not be a distraction," McKeever said during a telephone interview from his home in Canmore, Alta., Thursday. "Whether or not I am going to take motivation from it, we will see as we come into it.
"It's still a disappointment for sure. We want to have good races. We are going to get that just from our preparation."
McKeever, 30, is legally blind with Stargardt's disease, a form of macular degeneration that affects central vision.
He made history in January by being chosen as part of Canada's cross-country ski team that would compete at the Vancouver Games. That made him the first Paralympic athlete to be chosen for a Canadian Olympic team.
The decision felt like a body blow.
"It felt like it was an end to a dream," McKeever said. "I felt like I had lost something I had been holding on to for a very long time."
Devon Kershaw of Canmore finished fifth in the race, just 1.6 seconds out of a gold medal. George Grey of Rossland, B.C., was 18th; Alex Harvey of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., 22nd; and Ivan Babikov of Canmore, 33rd.
Thinking about the Olympics is like running his tongue over a sore tooth for McKeever. A good performance at the Paralympics, with his brother Robin acting as his guide, could be the best medicine.
"We are going to try and go out and lay down the best races we can," McKeever said. "We will try to be as good as we can.
"We are looking forward to getting out there and racing. That is what we do. We try not to get involved in the politics. We are athletes first. That just means our job is training and racing. I can't wait to go out there and do my job."
The Paralympic Games will be held March 12-21. The alpine skiing, cross-country and biathlon events will be held in Whistler, B.C., at the same venues that hosted the Olympics. Sledge hockey and wheelchair curling will be held in Vancouver.
McKeever won two gold, a silver and a bronze medal at the 2006 Turin Paralympic Games. He also won two gold and silver at the 2002 Salt Lake City Paralympics.
"It's getting more competitive every year," said McKeever. "We are always out there trying to raise the bar. Everybody else is gunning for us.
"We are the ones with the targets on our backs. As people start to realize what is possible, they are taking bigger and bigger steps forward. It is going to be harder and harder for Robin and I to stay ahead."