Brian McKeever has continued his winning form into 2019, with one gold and two silvers in cross-country vision impaired races at the Vuokatti World Cup. This was the first event he competed in after making history at PyeongChang 2018.
Alongside guides Russell Kennedy and Graham Nishikawa, he won three gold medals to become the most successful cross-country skier in Winter Paralympic history. He has so far won 13 golds across five Games.
The Canadian legend won gold in the long distance, middle distance and sprint vision impaired, before adding a bronze in the open relay on South Korean soil.
One year before, McKeever had claimed double cross-country gold in the men’s middle and long distance vision impaired at the World Championships in Finsterau, Germany. He has so far won 16 world titles.
McKeever is widely-recognised as one of the best Para Nordic skiers in history.
He first tried skiing at three years old and began competing at 12. He was chosen as Canada’s flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony of Salt Lake City 2002.
In 2007, he was named Best Male Athlete at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Paralympic Sport Awards and received the Best Male Athlete award at the 2014 Canadian Paralympic Sport Awards.
His older brother Robin, who competed in cross-country skiing at the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games, has also served as Brian’s guide for several years and has coached the Para Nordic skiing team on the international scene.
At age 19, McKeever was diagnosed with Stargardt disease (a macular degeneration or loss of central vision – fine detail and colour), which had also afflicted his father.
Further personal information
Sport specific information
In late 2015 he suffered an injury while training in Finland. (cccski.com, 19 Nov 2015)
His performances during the 2010/11 season were affected by a sinus and chest infection. (vancouversun.com, 15 Mar 2011)
In March 2009 he broke his left humerus [upper arm] after crashing during the Canadian championships. (paralympic.ca, 05 Feb 2014)
In October 2008 he suffered a micro-fracture in his ribs. (paralympic.ca, 05 Feb 2014)
He was flag bearer for Canada at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. He performed the same role at the closing ceremony of the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. (cbc.ca, 08 Mar 2018; paralympic.ca, 05 Feb 2014)
In 2016 he and his brother Robin received a Meritorious Service Medal [civil division] from the governor general of Canada in recognition of their sporting achievements. (skitrax.com, 24 Jun 2016)
He received the Best Male Athlete award at the 2014 Canadian Paralympic Sport Awards. (paralympic.org, 22 Sep 2014)
He was named Best Male Athlete at the 2007 International Paralympic Committee [IPC] Paralympic Sport Awards. (paralympic.ca, 05 Feb 2014)
His tally of 13 gold medals makes him the male athlete with the most gold medals in cross-country skiing at the Paralympic Winter Games. He surpassed the previous record of 10 gold medals at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang. (paralympic.ca, 12 Mar 2018; SportsDeskOnline, 30 Dec 2020)
He plans to retire from competition after the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. "I think it will be declaring it as an end point. As much as I enjoy this, I have to face facts that I'm pretty old with my beard getting longer and greyer every day, it's time. [The 2022 Games] gives me mentally as well a place to close it out and then gives me some time to think about what else to do. Of course that's difficult and at least it's making me aware that there's a need to transition and shift focus and think about it. When you are in your 40s and you're still trying to compete with young guys and be a professional, there is no such thing as being refreshed. I think the biggest thing is just the body breaking down and doesn't recover, so I'm in constant pain every day and as much as I can put that aside, it's a job, you start to realise. It's tough waking up every morning and barely being able to walk and going to bed at night and having pain all night. It wakes me up in the middle of the night and that stuff starts to weigh on you pretty heavily." (insidethegames.biz, 23 Oct 2020)
At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, he looked set to become the first athlete to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in the same year when he was selected for the Canadian able-bodied cross-country skiing team. However, the night before the 50km classic in Vancouver, the Canadian team announced its four-man line-up and he had been left out as he was the fifth-ranked member. "I am crushed by the decision, but I understand. Our boys are racing so fast and they have deserved everything they have got." (nationalpost.com, 08 Mar 2017; metronews.ca, 11 Mar 2011; cbc.ca, 27 Feb 2010)
|Men's 7.5 km Blind||Final Round||6|
|Men's 20 km Free Technique Visually impaired||Final Round||2|
|Men's 10 km Free Technique B3||Final Round||1|
|Men's 5 km Classical Technique B3||Final Round||1|
|Men's 20 km Visually impaired||Final Round||1|
|Men's 10 km Visually impaired||Final Round||1|
|Men's 1 km Sprint Visually impaired||Final Round||1|
|Men's 3 km Pursuit Visually impaired||Final Round||6|
|Men's 3 km Pursuit Visually impaired||Qualification||6|
|Men's 12.5 km Individual Visually impaired||Final Round||9999|
|Men's 20 km Visually impaired||Final Round||2|
|Men's 10 km Visually impaired||Final Round||1|
|Men's 5 km Visually impaired||Final Round||1|
|Men's 12.5 km Blind||Final Round||8|
|Men's 7.5 km Blind||Final Round||3|
|Men's Sprint - Classic VI||Final||2013-02-25||1|
|Men's Long Distance - Free Style VI||Final||2013-02-27||1|
|Men's Middle Distance - Classic VI||Final||2013-03-05||9999|
|Men's 7.5 km Visually Impaired||Final Round||2014-03-08||9999|
|Men's 20 km Visually Impaired||Final Round||2014-03-10||1|
|Men's 1 km Sprint Visually Impaired||Final Round||2014-03-12||1|
|4x2.5 km Open Relay||Final Round||2014-03-15||4|
|Men's 10 km Visually Impaired||Final Round||2014-03-16||1|
|Men's Long Distance - Free Style VI||Race 1||2015-01-25||1|
|Men's Long Distance - Classic VI||Final||2017-02-16||1|
|Men's Middle Distance - Free Style VI||Final||2017-02-19||1|
|Men's 20km Free Visual Impaired||Final||2018-03-12||1|
|Men's 1.5km Sprint Classic Visual Impaired||Final||2018-03-14||1|
|Men's 10km Classic Visual Impaired||Final||2018-03-17||1|
|4x2.5km Open Relay||Final||2018-03-18||3|
|Men's Long Distance - Classic VI||Final||2019-02-24||1|