Para-Nordic squad named
As Canada’s most successful ski team, the Para-Nordic squad has plenty of reason to smile.
Each of their athletes has shown dominating form on the World Cup circuit and, with another year until the Sochi Olympics, appear poised for another strong year following the official team unveiling, Friday (Oct. 19) at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
“The initial training time trials have been impressive,” said head coach Robin McKeever.
Brian McKeever and guide Erik Carleton, sit-ski athlete Chris Klebl, Mark Arendz and Collette Bourgonje all medalled last year on the World Cup, and coach McKeever’s optimistic about the season.
“We want to be on every podium and would love to see more from our guys,” McKeever said.
Following an unorthodox training schedule that saw the team spend more time at higher elevations, Carleton and Brian McKeever will fluctuate between World Cup and loppet races – something coach McKeever says is better for their development.
“At this stage, it’s less about the numbers and more about competing against yourself from last year,” Brian McKeever said.
Looking ahead, he’s keen on taking a look at the new course in Sochi (Russia), and both he and Carleton want another shot at the famous Vasaloppet (Sweden), where both were in contention last year.
“I broke a pole and Erik ran out of gas, so we want to do better this time,” McKeever said.
Carleton has also been pre-selected to compete in the World Cup race in Canmore, based on a strong showing at Canadian nationals last year.
“It’s a big opportunity to ski on the World Cup,” Carleton said. “It’s an important race and great to race in the community.”
Sit-skier Klebl appears stronger this year, and McKeever said finding him enough training opportunities has been a challenge.
“Chris is very professional and that has allowed him to find success,” McKeever said.
While the veteran skiers are progressing well, McKeever said Arendz is the future of the program. Racing both biathlon and cross-country ski races, he’ll again take aim at the overall biathlon title.
“Mark has improved the most. He’s the guy who’s going to carry us through to 2018 and 2022,” McKeever said.
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