BEIJING – Brian McKeever and Natalie Wilkie made it look easy, and Brittany Hudak brings home bronze on a huge day for Canada at the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics Games.
The men and women’s standing and vision impaired long distance Para cross-country event took over the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre in China on Monday (March 7).
The 42-year-old McKeever from Canmore and guide Russell Kennedy cruised to victory in the men’s 20-kilometre vision impaired Para cross-country classic.
McKeever and Kennedy opened up a big lead over the field, finishing at a time of 55:36.7 – more than three minutes ahead of silver medallist Jake Adicoff of the United States.
Taking bronze was Zebastian Modin of Sweden.
The gold medal is McKeever's 18th Paralympic medal of his career spanning six Games.
In the women’s 15km standing, Wilkie was golden, Hudak took bronze and Canada's Emily Young was fifth to cap off remarkable results for the Canadian women.
Sydney Peterson of the United States snagged silver.
Peterson was the early leader, but faded around the 5km mark in the classic. The 21-year-old Wilkie chased down the American and took over the lead at the 5.9km mark and never looked back. She finished at a time of 48:04.8.
It was a big rebound for Wilkie after the Canuck had a rifle malfunction on Day 1 in the biathlon sprint during the first trip to the range. She was pushed out of contention early and had to ski five, 100-metre penalty loops.
The men’s standing started things off on Day 3 and Canada's Mark Arendz finished fourth (54:43.9). The 32-year-old just missed the podium in a tight finish between racers two-to-four.
Japan's Taiki Kawayoke won gold at a time of 52:52.8. China's Cai Jiayun took silver crossing the line at 54:27.7, and Qui Mingyang of China grabbed the last spot at a time of 54:29.7.
On Day 1 in Beijing, Arendz won bronze in biathlon sprint.