PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — Brian McKeever’s bitterness over the 2010 Vancouver Olympic snub cost him the better part of two seasons, and robbed him of his love of the sport.
Canada’s most successful winter Paralympian — with guide Russell Kennedy — skied to his second gold medal in Pyeongchang in the 1.5 kilometre sprint classic, the 12th gold of his career, and the 38-year-old from Canmore, Alta., talked about the tough road back from resentment.
“I was angry,” said McKeever, who’s visually impaired. “Every year I still feel that, I feel that I lost something. I feel like I lost a chance. And that will probably never go away. I tried to train through it, and I tried to train with a renewed purpose, that ‘I’m going to go back and get to the next level.’
“But it was with the wrong emotion, it was with the wrong head. And once I was able to refocus and say ‘If I’m going to make it to Sochi and do well, I have to do it on my own terms and enjoy it.”‘
McKeever’s gold was one of six medals won Wednesday, boosting Canada’s total to 16, tying their result from four years ago in Sochi.
McKeever, who carried Canada’s flag into last week’s opening ceremonies, was poised to make history in Vancouver as the world’s first athlete to compete in both the winter Olympics and Paralympics in the same year. But Canada’s Olympic cross-country coaches opted to enter four other skiers in the men’s 50-kilometre race in a controversial decision.
McKeever, the odd man out, hadn’t been focused on making history so much as he’d dreamed of lining up against the world’s best on sport’s grandest stage. And when it didn’t happen “I actually gave away a couple of good years,” he said.
He eventually went back to the basics and forced himself to remember why he loves skiing — “just the feeling of gliding, and the effort that it takes to get that … and I find it very meditative, the training aspect. It’s repetitive for hours and hours. I enjoy that. It’s good for my head.”
Wednesday’s sprint races saw skiers leave from the start at intervals based on the severity of their disabilities. McKeever and Kennedy started 28 seconds behind Zebastian Modin and then hunted down the Swedish skier and his guide, furiously double-poling up the steep climbs until they caught the Swedes. McKeever entered the stadium with a comfortable lead, crossing in four minutes 3.2 seconds, 2.5 seconds ahead of runner-up Modin.
The five-foot-eight McKeever, dressed in a red-and-white Canadian cap and red wraparound sunglasses, laughingly grumbled about how this particular victory had been no fun at all.
“I don’t like these sprints,” said McKeever, who has two more races in Pyeongchang. “Maybe when …read more