Canada's Xavier McKeever scores junior cross-country ski gold hat trick in Sweden

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GÄLLIVARE, Sweden — Canadian cross-country skier Xavier McKeever won his third international junior men's gold medal in as many days Sunday in the Gaellivare Ski Festival.

The 18-year-old from Canmore, Alta., is the son of Olympians Robin McKeever and Milaine Thériault and the nephew of Paralympic champion Brian McKeever.

Xavier won Sunday's 15-kilometre skate-ski race after also taking the sprint and the 15k classic event.

He posted a winning time Sunday of 33 minutes 1.05 seconds over three, five-kilometre laps above the Arctic Circle.

McKeever finished nearly 90 seconds faster than runner-up Jens Junes of Sweden. Sweden's Theo Mattei took bronze in 34:31.8.

“This is my first skate distance race of the year, so I really had no idea how I’d fare," McKeever said in a Nordiq Canada statement.

"I just wanted to give'er. I’m so stoked with how things turned out.

“Overall, I had three solid races this week. There are still some things to improve on technique wise, but it is great to get the season underway and see where the shape is at."

Brian McKeever, a 17-time Paralympic medallist in the visually impaired classification, raced a men's 15k skate-ski Sunday to prepare for the upcoming Para World Cup season and placed 54th.

He also helped out his nephew and teammate Canadian Remi Drolet in Gaellivare by lending them skis.

“He has helped me test skis the last few days," Xavier said.

"I used a pair of his skis in the sprint race and tried a pair today as well to choose the best skis I can.

"He is so helpful to all of us and generous with lending us his equipment, but I also know once you get on the race course, it is all you.”

Drolet of Rossland, B.C., placed 16th in the men's 15k.

Meanwhile, Katherine Stewart-Jones of Chelsea Que., finished 11th in an international women's 10k skate-ski race in Norway.

The World Cup cross-country season starts next weekend in Rukka, Finland.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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