In Vancouver 2010, the Canadian Paralympic team placed third in the overall medal count with 19, behind Russia, which racked up 38, and Germany, with 24.
Canada has set a goal of being in the top three again this year overall at the Winter Paralympic Games held March 7 to 16 in Sochi, Russia, according to an Own the Podium press release.
Canada’s recently announced 14-athlete Paralympic nordic team has the horsepower and experience to do their part in bringing home medals.
The team will be led by 10-time Paralympic medallist Brian McKeever along with his guides Erik Carleton and Graham Nishikawa, and eight-time Paralympic medallist Colette Bourgonje. Her silver at the 2010 Games was Canada’s first medal at home.
McKeever, who races in the visually impaired category, will be appearing in his fourth Paralympic Games including Salt Lake City 2002, Turin 2006 and Vancouver four years ago.
The triple-gold medallist from 2010 tweeted on Tuesday: “Woke up with a virus yesterday. Timing couldn’t be much worse. Not the ideal prep for the #Paralympics. It’s been a bumpy #RoadToSochi.”
In 2010, McKeever, 34, was named to both Canada’s Paralympic and Olympic teams. In the Olympics, he qualified to compete in the men’s 50-kilometre cross-country race; however, Canada’s coach decided to replace him with a skier who did well in earlier race at the Games.
Bourgonje, 52, is one of Canada’s most recognized Paralympians, having participated in all six Paralympic Winter Games in addition to wheelchair racing at three Summer Paralympics. She is the reigning world champion in the sit-skiing distance race and she captured a silver and bronze medal at the 2010 Paralympics.
In an interview with Canada.com, Bourgonje said, “My goals for Sochi are to be in the top five.”
Biathlete Mark Arendz, 24, is a multiple International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup medallist and is first overall in this season’s World Cup standings. He will be competing for his first Paralympic medals in the standing division in his second Winter Paralympics.
Last season, Arendz won the overall IPC World Cup Biathlon title, and won a gold and two bronze medals at IPC World Championships, and won a gold, two silvers and four bronzes throughout the World Cup season.
FasterSkier’s Para-Nordic contributor, Mark Vosburgh lives in Missoula, Mont., where he works as a Wildfire Scientist for the US Forest Service. In addition to being a chemical engineer, Mark is a cross-country and backcountry skier, bluegrass musician, and biker. He’s also a freelance writer for numerous publications including for 48 Degrees North and MakeitMissoula.com.