June 18, 1979
Lifesport Ski Team
Graham Nishikawa, Russell Kennedy
National Ski Team Background:
Brian McKeever is Canada’s most-decorated winter Paralympian having racked up 17 medals in five trips to the Paralympic Winter Games, including 13 gold. Teaming up with former guide, and brother Robin, Brian has won nearly everything on the table in Para-Nordic skiing. Brian continued his tradition of winning with childhood friend, Erik Carleton. He also added friend, and national team athlete Graham Nishikawa to his team as an additional guide for the Sochi Paralympics. That relationship continues today as Graham, along with Olympian Russell Kennedy, helped guide Brian to three golds and a bronze medal in 2018. In 2010, Brian became the first athlete in the world to be named to the Olympic and Paralympic Teams. While Brian did not start in the Olympic races in Whistler, he went on to win three gold medals at the Paralympics. He is the first athlete to win the Triple Treble – three golds in each of the last three Paralympic Games.
Canada’s Flag Bear for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2018 Paralympics, Brian has worked his way through the national program competing at all levels in both able-bodied and Para-Nordic skiing. He competed in his first World Championships in 2007 where he led the Canadians with a 21st-place finish in Sapporo, Japan. Prior to being diagnosed with Stargaard’s disease in 1998, Brian also represented Canada at the Junior World Championships in Pontresina, Switzerland.
Brian was recognized in 2019 as a nominee for most outstanding athlete with a disability at the prestigious Laureus Sport Awards.
Introduction to Cross-Country Skiing:
Growing up in an active family, Brian began skiing at the early age of three, and entered his first competitive race at age 12. What he enjoys most about skiing is the adrenaline rush he receives when racing or competing. Kaspar Wirz introduced him to the blind skier category of the Para-Nordic ski world as he was new on the team at the time.
It wasn’t only his father’s influence that shaped Brian’s life, but a rare genetic disease as well. Brian’s father and aunt suffered from Stargaard’s disease (macular degeneration or loss of central vision – fine detail and colour). Doctor’s had always told Brian that he may get the disease, but both his father and his aunt contracted the disease in elementary school. Brian felt that he may have beat the odds as he grew into his teens.
In 1998, Brian competed in the 1998 World Junior Championships, but by 1999 he was having trouble reading billboards from the car window. He had his eyes checked and was diagnosed with Stargaard’s disease. “The easiest way I can describe the feeling is that if you stared at the sun for a long time and turn away, you get these fuzzy spots. Well for me, the fuzzy spots don’t go away. It’s the loss of central vision. Sort of like a fuzzy blob in the middle of my vision. I always knew it was a possibility. It wasn’t much of a transition because soon after I was diagnosed, the disabled team came knocking.”
– Winner of 17 Paralympic medals, including 13 gold
– Opening Ceremonies Flag Bearer for Team Canada at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games
– Won three gold medals and a bronze at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, in PyeongChang, Korea
– Won three gold medals at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia
– Won three gold medals at 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver-Whistler
– First athlete in the world to qualify for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in same year
– Nominated for Athlete of the Year with a Disability at 2019 Laureus Sport Awards
– Won one gold at 2019 IPC World Championships
– Won two gold medals at the 2017 Para-Nordic World Championships
– Won two gold medals at the 2015 Para-Nordic World Championships
– Won two gold medals at 2013 Para-Nordic World Championship
– Overall Winner on 2013 IPC Cross-Country Skiing World Cup
– Won five gold medals on 2013 IPC World Cup Circuit
– Won three gold and one silver at 2011 Para-Nordic World Championships
– Races on the World Cup in both the able-bodied and para-nordic circuits
– Finished 21st in the 15km free event at the 2007 FIS World Ski Championships in Sapporo, Japan
– Four-time gold, silver and bronze medallist at Paralympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.
– First overall in 2004, 2003 and 2002 Disabled World Cup rankings for cross-country skiing – Men’s Blind Category
– Five-time gold medallist at 2003 Disabled World Championships;
– Two-time gold and silver medallist at Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.