Canada’s multiple Paralympic and world champion Brian McKeever proved once again why he is one of the world’s best cross-country skiers on Thursday (16 February), winning his seventh men’s long distance visually impaired world title in Finsterau, Germany.
Skiing with guide Graham Nishikawa, McKeever dominated the race and was the only athlete in his classification to ski under the one hour mark in 57:35.4.
He won his first Worlds gold in 2003, the year after he made his winning debut at the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games.
“Today was super good,” McKeever said. “My guide Graham skied incredibly well. It was much faster in the draft behind [him], and so the fact that he could stay in front for four laps out of five helped me out a lot and gave me a cushion to push a little bit at the end an increase the gap.
“In the end it was more comfortable than it could have been. The technicians did the best job today. When you have skies like that it makes it easy to win.”
The win is Canada’s second gold and fourth medal overall from Finsterau 2017, ahead of the 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships which will be hosted in the country in Prince George, British Columbia.
Sweden’s Zebastian Modin (1:00:24.6), guided by Johannes Andersson, took silver after moving up from a fourth place first lap.
Norway’s Eirik Bye (1:00:58.8) skied consistently within the top three to secure bronze with guide Arvid Nelson.
Austrian 18-year-old Carina Edlinger doubled her gold medal haul in the cross-country in the women’s visually impaired. After winning the sprint on Sunday (12 February), much to the delight of her family, Edlinger lapped the course in 55:40.1 with her guide brother Julian Josef.
Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova (57:11.9), guided by Vitalii Kazakov, was second. Shyshkova was joined on the podium by teammate Olga Prylutska (1:00:01.8) and guide Lada Nesterenko, in third.
There was further medal delight for Ukraine in the men’s sitting. Maksym Yarovyi (40:32.4) swept to his second cross-country gold. The 27-year-old improved on his silver medal from Cable, USA, in 2015.
South Korea’s Eui Hyun Sin (40:56.7) continued his great World Championships debut for the hosts of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. He claimed silver to add to a biathlon bronze from earlier in the competition.
Germany’s new double biathlon world champion Martin Fleig (41:05.4) also transferred his success to the cross-country trails, securing third.
The USA’s Oksana Masters (36:01.0) triumphed in the women’s sitting, proving unstoppable once again as she had done in the sprint on Sunday.
Norway’s Birgit Skarstein (36:51.7), who has also represented her country in rowing at the Paralympic Games, climbed onto her first Worlds podium with silver. Andrea Eskau (37:00.0) sealed her second cross-country medal of the competition in third.
Both the men’s and women’s standing races were won by Ukrainian skiers.
In the men’s, Ihor Reptyukh (58:03.1) upgraded his bronze from 2015 to gold.
Finland’s Ilkka Tuomisto (58:39.1) revelled in his first World Championships medal since 2011 with silver. Japan’s Yoshihiro Nitta (58:51.6) was third.
The women’s podium featured an all-Ukrainian trio.
Oleksandra Kononova (51:56.9) retained her world title, despite dropping to third during one lap. She recovered in time to lead Iuliia Batenkova (53:38.1) and Liudmyla Liashenko (53:59.4) into second and third, respectively.
The competition at Finsterau 2017 will continue on Saturday (18 February) with the sprint biathlon.
Live results and coverage from the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships are available at Finsterau2017.com.
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