Course workers prepare the landing area at the ski jump venue in Whistler Olympic Park in Whistler, B.C. Friday, Feb. 5, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Next generation of Canadian ski talent sets sights on Whistler, B.C., in 2023

Next generation of Canadian ski talent sets sights on Whistler, B.C., in 2023

CANMORE, Alta. — Canada’s Xavier McKeever will be exactly the right age to contend for medals on home snow in 2023.

He’ll be 20 at world nordic junior and under-23 championship in Whistler, B.C.

The cross-country skier from Canmore, Alta., was a 15-year-old racing against 20-year-old males when he made his world junior debut in 2019 in Lahti, Finland.

McKeever looks forward to having the advantage of experience and physical maturation in Whistler.

“It will be my last year of junior so that picks up my will to perform there,” McKeever said Monday following a training session in Canmore, Alta.

“I’ve got big goals for that championship. Having world juniors in your home country is good motivation and it’s a good goal to have in your mind.”

Canada will host the championship, which combines cross country, ski jumping and nordic combined, for the second time following Canmore in 1997.

The 1979 championship in Mont-Sainte-Anne Que., featured ski jumping and nordic combined, but not cross-country skiing.

Roughly 700 athletes from 50 countries will descend upon Whistler Olympic Park’s cross-country tracks and ski jumps, which were the venues for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“It’s pretty cool when there’s world events happening where we race for pretty local events and we’ve skied there quite a bit,” said 18-year-old cross-country skier Anna Pryce of Calgary.

“You’ve got the big Olympic rings right in the stadium. It’s pretty cool to ski around them.”

McKeever is the son of Olympic cross-country skiers Robin McKeever and Milaine Theriault and the nephew Brian McKeever, who won three of his 13 Paralympic gold medals in Whistler.

Xavier McKeever, Calgary’s Tom Stephen, Olivier Léveillé of Sherbrooke, Que., and Remi Drolet of Rossland, B.C., claimed a relay silver medal at the world junior championship in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, in February.

Stephen will have graduated from the junior ranks and would compete in the under-23 championships in Whistler.

“I think it’s going to be really cool to be on home turf in Canada,” Stephen said. “I think it’s a really big step for Canadian cross-country skiing.

“Might get a few medals and show Canadians that we’re serious about cross-country skiing. I think also the biggest home course advantage is going to be having all the Canadian fans cheering for you.”

Nordiq Canada high-performance director Kate Boyd calls the 2023 championship the stepping stone to 2026 for skiers like McKeever and Stephen.

“It’s a really big deal to get the under-23 world juniors here,” Boyd said.

“It’s a world championship and for that age group, that’s a super big deal to have that silver-medal team gearing up for the 2026 Olympic Games in Italy.”

Since the 2010 Winter Games, Whistler’s ski jump was the site of a NorAm competition in 2019 and an international Continental Cup in 2017.

“This event will be an outstanding opportunity to elevate our exciting sport and showcase the next generation of Olympic jumpers on Canadian hills,” Ski Jump Canada chairman Todd Stretch said Monday in a statement.

“Holding an event of this magnitude will also assist with refreshing the jumping facilities at the venue to help ensure the future development of the sport in Canada.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2020.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced the province surpasses one million COVID-19 tests Friday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
COVID-19: Red Deer at 141 active cases

Central zone active cases up by 100 in last 24 hours

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer area seniors facility pauses visits after staff tests positive for COVID

A Red Deer County seniors facility has put the breaks on visitors… Continue reading

Alberta confirmed more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases Sunday

Alberta confirmed 1,584 COVID-19 cases Sunday afternoon. The total active cases went… Continue reading

Hockey Canada logo at an event in Toronto on November 1, 2017. A “non-core member” of Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team staff has tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Hockey Canada staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in Red Deer

A “non-core member” of Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team staff has tested… Continue reading

Lynn Van Laar, chair of this year’s Christmas Wish Breakfast, said the event was planned outdoors to minimize the risk of COVID. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Outdoor Christmas Wish Breakfast helps central Alberta families this holiday season

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going to stop children from having a merry… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses after responding to a question about the holidays during a news conference outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau joins G20 in promising COVID-19 aid to poor nations, rejecting protectionism

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined leaders from the world’s 20… Continue reading

Justice Minister David Lametti responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. The federal bill revising the rules on medically assisted death in Canada has raised the ire of the Canadian Psychiatric Association over the proposed law’s explicit rejection of mental illness as grounds for ending a patient’s life. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental illness in assisted dying-bill slammed by psychiatrists

OTTAWA — The federal bill revising the rules on medically assisted death… Continue reading

The Quebec flag is seen on the podium as Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet responds to a question during a news conference Wednesday June 3, 2020 in Ottawa. Perennial anxieties around the state of the French language in Quebec have boiled over in the past week, with politicians seizing on a Liberal MP’s initial brush-off of the issue as evidence of indifference to a crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Angst around French language boils over in Quebec, as politicians warn of ‘decline’

MONTREAL — Perennial anxieties around the state of the French language in… Continue reading

Numuch Keitlah, left, and Jake Thomas, centre, participate in a Coastal Nations search and rescue exercise off the coast of Vancouver Island in this undated handout photo. The recently operational Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary has more than 50 members from five Indigenous territories who are trained in marine search and rescue. They are on call day and night to respond to emergencies along some of B.C.’s most rugged and remote coastal areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Jordan Wilson *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada’s first Indigenous-led coast guard auxiliary patrols B.C.’s rugged coast

VICTORIA — The winds were gusting at 110 kilometres per hour and… Continue reading

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has sponsored the VanVleet Court at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, Ill. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Fred VanVleet signs four-year, US$85-million deal with Toronto Raptors

TORONTO — Fred VanVleet, one of the most coveted players in free… Continue reading

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
‘Hardship is not a new thing:’ Nunavut fights COVID-19 as cases continue to rise

IQALUIT — It has been just over two weeks since Nunavut declared… Continue reading

Pedestrians walk past Pfizer world headquarters in New York on Monday Nov. 9, 2020. Despite recent optimism over reported results from COVID-19 vaccine trials,<br>Two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have recently announced they're developed COVID-19 vaccines that are 95 per cent effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Bebeto Matthews
A long way from lab bench to bedside: Virus experts urge COVID-19 vaccine caution

Despite recent optimism over reported results from COVID-19 vaccine trials, virologists say… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
After COVID-related transplant delays, 16-year-old N.S. girl gets lung transplant

‘This is the difficult time now of seeing Tahlia in ICU hooked up to 15 IVs and sedated’

Most Read