Winter Paralympics officially begin with opening ceremony

Para nordic star Brian McKeever enthusiastically led Canada into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea.

Brian McKeever leads record Canadian contingent into Games

13-time Paralympic medallist Brian McKeever carried the flag, as Canada's team of 55 athletes arrived for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games opening ceremony 1:38

Para nordic star Brian McKeever enthusiastically led Canada into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea.

It was McKeever's first time participating in the opening ceremony. Although he owns 10 gold medals — and 13 overall — from four Paralympics, he usually competes on the first day of the Games.

The ceremony, which featured a dizzying array of lights and pyrotechnics along with elaborate drumming displays and K-pop-inspired performances, culminated in the lighting of the Paralympic cauldron.

The North and South Korean contingents didn't march together in the parade of nations like their Olympic counterparts, but representatives from both countries carried in the torch.

Watch as the cauldron is lit, to open the Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games 11:37

McKeever, sporting Team Canada gear and a wide smile, walked into the stadium with 54 other Canadian athletes — the country's largest-ever Winter Paralympics contingent — along with coaches and support staff.

"I'm so thrilled to see Brian chosen as our flag-bearer," said CBC commentator Stephanie Dixon, a 19-time Paralympic medallist.

"He is an incredible leader and role model for all of our Canadian athletes, and as he's heading towards the end of his career, this is just an incredible, incredible opportunity for Brian to reflect upon his career," she said about the 38-year-old.

Canada has won 135 Winter Paralympics medals, including 43 gold, since the inaugural Games in Sweden in 1976. The 2018 opening ceremony will air again at 7 p.m. ET today on CBCSports.ca, and on CBC Television at 8 p.m.

Paralympics 'stronger than ever'

In his opening remarks, IPC president Andrew Parsons spoke about the growth of the Games and their impact on lives around the world. 

"Seventy years ago this year, Sir Ludwig Guttmann gave hope to millions with his vision of creating opportunities for people with an impairment through sport," Parsons said, referring to the doctor considered the founder of the Paralympic movement.

Watch International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons' speech to open the Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games 6:00

Guttmann, a Jewish neurologist who fled to Great Britain from Nazi Germany, used sport as part of his work rehabilitating injured World War II veterans; he organized the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948, which served as a precursor to the Paralympics.

"Today, his dream is stronger than ever. Paralympic sport not only changes lives, but also changes the world," Parsons said.

Coverage on all platforms

CBC and Radio-Canada will offer more than 600 hours of coverage of the Paralympics Games.

Broadcasts, which run today through March 18, will be available daily on CBC and Radio-Canada with live streams hosted on the CBC Sports app.

An additional 300 hours of live streams, across all six sports — alpine skiing, para ice hockey, cross-country skiing, biathlon, para snowboarding and wheelchair curling — will be available on the CBC site and the CBC Sports app.

Described video will be offered on all of CBC's broadcasts and online streams of the same coverage.

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