It’s almost time.
The 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships are just days away with the opening ceremonies kicking off on Friday night (Feb. 15) before competitions commence.
While you wait, here are some of the ones to keep an eye on during the upcoming championships here in Prince George.
BRIAN MCKEEVER – CAN
Brian McKeever hails from Calgary, Alberta and competes in the visually impaired categories.
Recently, McKeever won a gold medal as well as two silvers in cross-country vision impaired races at the Vuokatti World Cup. This was his first competition since the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea.
While in PyeongChang, McKeever took home three gold medals alongside guides Russell Kennedy and Graham Nishikawa.
With those medals, the Canadian became the most successful cross-country skier in Winter Paralympic history.
He’s won an astonishing 13 gold medals over five Olympic games.
If you thought that was impressive, McKeever has won 16 world titles. Sixteen!
At 19 years old, McKeever was diagnosed with Stargardt disease (a macular degeneration or loss of central vision – fine detail and colour) which also affects his dad.
BENJAMIN DAVIET – FRA
Benjamin Daviet is one of the up and coming top skiers in the world in the men’s Nordic skiing standing category and he has the accomplishments to prove it.
At the first two world cups of the 2018/19 season, the Frenchman racked up five golds between biathlon and cross country events.
He also had an incredible performance at the 2018 PyeongChang games where he won two gold medals and one silver in biathlon, as well as one gold and one silver in cross-country.
He also won three world titles in 2017 in Germany where he won two in cross-country and one in biathlon.
Daviet injured his knee in a moped accident at 17-years-old. When in the hospital he was diagnosed with a hospital-acquired infection which permanently affected the use of his knee.
CARINA EDLINGER – AUT
Carina Edlinger is looking to capitalize during the championships here in Prince George after her recent performances in two world cups.
The Austrian won four cross-country races during 2018-19.
In PyeongChang, she didn’t hit the end goal of a gold medal but did take home a bronze medal in cross-country middle-distance vision impaired.
Eslinger’s sight in both of her eyes decreased due to a rare genetic disease.
MARK ARENDZ – CAN
The Canmore, Alberta resident comes into the Prince George championships looking to build on his great start to the season.
Arendz first started skiing when he was five-years-old but was involved in a farming accident two years later.
He was trying to put corn into a corn auger when he lost his balance which resulted in the amputation of his left arm above the elbow.
The Canadian won six medals in PyeongChang in the biathlon long distance, silver in the biathlon sprint and cross-country relay and bronze in the biathlon middle distance and cross-country middle distance and sprint races.
Arendz also finished second in the 2016-17 Biathlon World Cup overall rankings.
NATALIE WILKIE – CAN
Natalie Wilkie made her debut to the world stage at age 17 during the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games where she took home gold in the women’s middle distance standing and she also won a bronze medal in the sprint as well as silver in the mixed relay.
The 17-year-old was the youngest member of the Canadian team during the games but was awarded the Canadian Paralympic Sport Award for Best Paralympic Debut by a Female Athlete.
Wilkie lost four fingers on her left hand during a woodworking class accident back in 2016.
“I was planing a piece of wood,” she says. “The wood kicked back so my hand went into the machine, and I was stuck for an hour.”
The 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships will take place from this Friday (Feb. 15) to Feb. 24.