This past Sunday, the Beijing 2022 Paralympics came to a close. And even though the final day saw Canada's para hockey team fall just short of gold medal redemption, the country's team performed extremely well.
Their 25 medals—8 gold, 6 silver, and 11 bronze—was the third-best total at these Games and Canada's second-best Paralympic showing of all time.
Alpine star Mollie Jepsen was chosen as the country's flag bearer at the closing ceremonies—a big honour that she earned after winning a gold and silver. But she was just one of many great stories from these Games. Let's look back on the best moments together!
Brian McKeever really is amazing
What else is there to say about nordic skier Brian McKeever? Well, how about this?
In his events, which are for those with visual impairments, athletes are paired with a guide. This other athlete races just ahead of the Paralympian to help them find their way through the course. The guide is usually faster than the Paralympian.
But in McKeever's final race—12.5 km middle-distance event—his guide, Graham Nishikawa barely made it over the finish line before he collapsed from exhaustion. Meanwhile, McKeever crossed the line looking like he could race another 10 km. And he's 42 years old, which is quite old for a top athlete!
In the end, this race gave the retiring McKeever a record-tying 16th ever gold in the Paralympics—German alpine skier Gerd Schoenfelder also won 16 gold in his career, the most of a male winter Paralympian. It was just confirmation of something we knew even before these Games began. McKeever is one of Canada's best-ever athletes.
Ukraine's epic performance
The Russian invasion of Ukraine had a dramatic effect on the Games. For one, it meant that Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from taking part. But both the Olympics and Paralympics are intended to show the power of friendly competition between nations. And Ukraine used this opportunity to deliver an inspirational performance for their country and the world.
Ukraine finished second only to host nation China, with 29 medals, and 11 of them gold. Its athletes frequently used their wins to call for an end to war. After winning gold in the 4 x 2.5 km nordic skiing relay, the team unfurled a banner that read: Peace For All.
In an interview after this victory, one of the team members, Grygorii Vovchynskyi, said, "This [win] is for life after the Paralympic Games. Today, what's more important is life in Ukraine, life in the world, peace in the world, no war in the world."
Snowboarding? Snow problem!
Finally, let's end by highlighting Canada's performance on the slopes in snowboarding. Before this, no Canadian Paralympian had ever won a snowboarding medal. That all changed in Beijing!
First, Lisa DeJong sped to a silver in the women's snowboard cross. It was a big way to announce that Canadian snowboarders were here to make their mark in 2022. And it set the stage for a brand new star. Tyler Turner!
This B.C. snowboarder was on fire, winning every stage of the men's snowboard cross to finish with an emphatic gold. These two Paralympic rookies have set the bar high for the athletes that follow them. That's how you do it, Tyler and Lisa!
We want to extend congratulations to all of the Paralympians, not only from Canada, but from around the world. They all delivered powerful messages of the spirit of competition when we really needed them.