Stories About a Super Badass Blind Cross-Country Skier

I tried to think of a better title for this post, but Brian McKeever seems so totally SUPER BADASS, I decided to just go with the obvious.

Mental Floss has a nice piece about him today. Here’s the gist of it: McKeever is thirty years old, he’s on the Canadian team, and this year, he’s competing in both the Winter Olympics and the Paralympic games. And he’s legally blind.

How does McKeever get by without a guide in able-bodied races? He practices a course over and over again until he thinks he’s got all of its little twists and turns committed to memory. He uses his remaining peripheral vision to watch videos of the course, and on race day McKeever just tries to key in on another skier whose speed he thinks he can match and follows him. Last week he jokingly told the Associated Press that “if you stay in the white between the green, you’re pretty safe.”

And from the Guardian:

“I’m not going to stand here and say I’m going to win a gold medal. I don’t think I have the experience for that. But what I can say is I’m going to go into the race in the best shape of my life and, hopefully, when I hit the finish line I can say that was the best race I could have had,” he says.

Confronted by his status as a history marker, or by the suggestion that his Olympic participation speaks to a broader truth about society and its misguided attitude towards disabled athletes, McKeever is almost embarrassed. Others can make bold statements, he prefers quiet reflection. “No one really sets out to be a role model,” he says. “But what I would say is that I started out doing this for fun and if there is any message I would put out there it is to keep having fun. If you do that you can achieve great things.”

He’s competing in the 50k cross-country race on Sunday.

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