Sixteen-Year-Old Xavier McKeever Shines at Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in Seventeenth
OBERWIESENTHAL, Ger.—Canada’s Xavier McKeever had the 10-kilometre classic cross-country ski race at the Nordic Junior World Ski Championships circled on his calendar with a clear goal in mind.
“Coming into these championships, my big goal was to get a top-20 finish. I knew the 10k and 30k were my two big chances to achieve this. It is sure nice to put one down today,” said McKeever.
The youngest member of Team Canada at 16 years old, put the pedal down in the second half of his 10-kilometre trek through the Sparkassen Skiarena to post a 17th-place time 27:45.1.
“This is one of the best races of my life,” beamed the son of Olympians Milaine Theriault and Robin McKeever – not to mention the nephew of the most accomplished Winter Paralympian, Brian McKeever, who happens to have 17 Paralympic medals hanging from his mantle.
“I’m a fairly confident guy, but I didn’t have the greatest sprint race so coming into this one I was questioning my shape. This result proves I’m in great shape and it feels amazing for sure.”
Skiing strong and conservatively throughout the first two laps which features gradual terrain and a handful of double-poling sections, the young McKeever drafted one of the top Norwegian skiers in his second lap. The Canmore, Alta. resident turned on the jets in his final loop where he climbed from 29th spot to 17th on the tricky, iced tracks which were covered with a dusting of snow.
“I started strong but felt better as I went on. I got a nice rhythm down and pushed hard for that final lap,” said McKeever. “This is a big confidence booster for me. I take a lot of pride knowing that I skied the way I’m capable of skiing.”
McKeever finished just over a minute behind the race winner, Gus Schumacher. The American clocked a golden time of 26:31.7. Germany’s Friedrich Moch finished 4.5 seconds off the leading pace, winning the silver medal with a time of 26:36.2. Italy’s Davide Graz claimed the bronze at 26:38.4.
Two other Canadians skied to the final two spots in the top-30 of the men’s field. Remi Drolet, of Rossland, B.C., was 29th at 28:06.7. Olivier Léveillé, of Sherbrooke, Que., skied to 30th at 28:08.5. Tom Stephen, of Canmore, Alta., placed 65th (30:20.4).
Jasmine Drolet, of Rossland, B.C., was the top Canadian in the women’s five-kilometre classic-ski race. Competing in her second-straight World Championships, Drolet posted a time of 15:07.7 for 32nd place. Molly Miller, of Kimberly, B.C., was 47th (15:30.6), while Benita Peiffer, of Whistler, B.C., finished 49th (15:37.9), and Liliane Gagnon, of Quebec, placed 50th with a time of 15:39.6.
Norway’s Helene Fossesholm struck gold in the short-distance women’s race with a time of 13:49.1. Germany’s Lisa Lohmann was second at 14:04.8, while Poland’s Izabela Marcisz rounded out the podium with a time of 14:17.2.
The Under-23 Nordic World Ski Championships resume on Tuesday with a 10- and 15-kilometre classic-ski race.
Nordiq Canada is the governing body of para-nordic and cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 60,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Swix and Lanctôt Sports– along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, Nordiq Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Nordiq Canada, please visit us at www.nordiqcanada.ca.