National Team Athletes Shine at Canadian Birkebeiner

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A number of athletes from Cross Country Canada’s national and Para-Nordic Ski Teams not only hit the start line, but rose to the top in the Canadian Birkebeiner in Edmonton on Saturday.

While former Canadian Ski Team athletes, Milaine Theriault and Robin McKeever, won their individual categories while skiing 55 kilometres with 12-pound packs, Team 2007 member Chris Jeffries won the Birkie Lite race where athletes ski 55 kilometres without packs.

However, the day belonged to the four Para-Nordic skiers whose willingness to hit the start line for the first time at the Canadian Birkie was a feat in its own, regardless of their physical limitations.

Colette Bourgonje skied the 31 kilometres in a sit-ski, while Shauna Maria Whyte, who has been making her mark on the IPC World Cup this year, finished the 55 kilometre race on Saturday also in a sit-ski.

Two Para-Nordic development athletes followed the tracks of their national role models. Lou Gibson intended to complete the 55 kilometre event, but a broken ski five-kilometres in altered his plans. Gibson was still able to complete the 31 kilometres.

Lastly, but certainly not least, Tyler Mosher, who was told after his spinal injury that he would not walk again, used to struggle to finish five-kilometres in a ski race. Today, Mosher took another step in overcoming adversity and completed the 55 kilometres at the Birkie in Edmonton.

In addition to skiing in the Birkie, the athletes have been doing community outreach and media events in association with the event, and are being graciously hosted by Jean Funk at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre.

Congratulations to all of the athletes who tested their skills and stamina.