CABLE MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.—Canada’s Chris Klebl returned to elite competition just four months removed from breaking his leg in November to capture his first IPC World Cup cross-country skiing race of the season on Thursday in Cable Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The 30-year-old Klebl, who won a gold medal the 2011 World Championships in sit-skiing for Canada, powered his way to the silver step of the podium in a tight battle in the men’s 15-kilomtre sit-ski race where he posted a time of 45:22.7.
“I’m so excited and relieved to know the long hard summer of training with the team has paid off,” said Klebl, who had the word YEAH programmed into his heart rate monitor for additional motivation. “It is a relief to that I was able to recover from my injury and be competitive at this this level.”
Klebl battled it out in the lead group with two Russian skiers who were tactically working together to conserve energy, which proved to be a winning formula. Working with fellow Russian teammate Irek Zaripov, Klebl’s rival, Roman Petushkov vaulted to the lead down the final lap to post a golden time of 45:07.7. Zaripov grabbed the bronze at 45:58.7.
Klebl, who moved to Canmore, Alta. to join the Canucks from the United States last year, grew up in Austria. He became paralyzed from the waist down in 1995 in a snowboarding accident. The two-time Parlaympian started competing in cross-country skiing in 2005, and finished fourth overall on the World Cup in 2011 with one World Cup bronze medal.
Other Canadian results on Thursday included: Quebec’s Sebastien Fortier in 15th (51:22.3), and Yves Bourques in 16th (58:01.5) in the 15-kilometre sit-ski race; Ontario’s Christy Campbell finishing 10th (1:13:07), and Quebec’s Christine Gauthier in 13th (1:21:44) in the women’s 12-kilometre sit-ski; Louis Fortin, of New Brunswick, in 17th (1:38:12) in the men’s 20-kilometre standing race; Newfoundland’s Erica Noonan narrowly missed the podium in fourth in the women’s 15-kilometre standing race with a time of 1:13:10; while Ontario’s Margarita Gorbounova and guide Brian Berry finished fifth in the women’s 15-kilometre visually impaired category.
Source: Cross-Country Canada