Canada's McKeever, Arendz end para-nordic worlds on a high note
McKeever wins 2nd-straight cross-country title
Canada's para-nordic cross-country ski team capped off a dream week at the world championships by adding a gold and bronze to their medal haul in Finsterau, Germany.
Brian McKeever of Canmore, Alta., and his guide, Graham Nishikawa, won their second-straight gold medal in the men's visually impaired middle distance cross-country ski race, while Mark Arendz celebrated a memorable world championships with a bronze for his first career cross-country ski medal in the men's standing classification at the premier para-nordic event.
The 37-year-old McKeever reigned supreme at the world championships with his third medal of the week. Led by Nishikawa, the 13-time Paralympic medallist captured his 10th world championship title since 2005 on Sunday.
"We had four races in five days so it was a lot about survival today," McKeever said in a press release.
"Our performances are showing that things are moving back in the right direction after being sick around Christmas. Graham is in incredible shape right now, and a step above me which is important for us."
The king of the para-nordic cross-country ski world was given all he could handle in the men's 10-kilometre visually impaired classification, where he clocked a golden time of 22 minutes and 15.1 seconds. The Canadian duo were three seconds behind a young athlete from Belarus at the halfway point of the race.
"He started really hard and lost steam later in the race, but we had a really good strategy today on how to attack the hills and where to back off," McKeever said. "We started off slow, but once we began to accelerate the guys couldn't catch us. We made sure that we always had something in reserve today. If we had to unleash it on the last lap we could have. We had good track craft and race brains today."
Thomas Clarion and his guide of Antoine Bollet, of France, finished second with a time of 22:45.6. Yury Holub and D. Budzilovich, of Belarus, held on for third place with a time of 22:48.1.
Arendz completes storybook run
Meanwhile, Arendz had a storybook ending to his world championships. Having won two golds and one silver in the biathlon events — while also winning bronze with McKeever on Canada's first-ever para-nordic cross-country ski relay team to reach a podium — the 26-year-old Arendz added another bronze to his name in the men's 10-kilometre standing cross-country ski race.
The Hartsville, P.E.I. resident posted a third-place time of 23:08.9 to secure his first career world championship individual cross-country ski medal. He now has eight world championship podium finishes through his 10-year career.
"I went into today's race not sure what would happen given it was my sixth race in nine days. I started strong and kept it going for as long as I could," Arendz said. "It was a tight race. I threw everything I had left out there.
"I'm skiing very well. The fitness is there and the skis have been fantastic. My first individual cross-country ski medal at worlds - today's result is a close second to the two world championship titles."
Benjamin Daviet, of France, finished with a time of 21:52.9. Ihor Reptyukh, of the Ukraine was second at 22:22.9.