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10-time medallist Brian McKeever heads Canada's Paralympic cross-country team

Canadian Brian McKeever celebrates his gold medal win in the men's 20 km free, visually impaired cross country ski race at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Whistler, Monday, March 15, 2010. McKeever will once again lead Canada's cross-country team at the Sochi Paralympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

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Canadian Brian McKeever celebrates his gold medal win in the men's 20 km free, visually impaired cross country ski race at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Whistler, Monday, March 15, 2010. McKeever will once again lead Canada's cross-country team at the Sochi Paralympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. - Brian McKeever will once again lead Canada's cross-country team at the Sochi Paralympics.

The 10-time medallist was among 14 cross-country skiers and biathletes named to the Canadian contingent on Tuesday.

McKeever, who competes in the visually impaired category, won three gold medals at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics. The Cochrane, Alta., native believes it will be hard to top the emotions of competing on home soil.

"Four years goes by in a hurry," McKeever said Tuesday. "It's a chance once in a career, an opportunity many people don't get. It's going to really hard to top Vancouver."

"It was Canada's Games and you could really feel the support of Canadians right across the country."

The 34-year-old McKeever has won seven Paralympic gold medals in his career and added that he's ready to go all out again in Russia.

"We've had good prep and a good couple years of training here leading into this," he said. "It's that kind mentality that drives us and keeps us focused and performing even if we're very far away from home."

McKeever's guides Erik Carleton, of Canmore, and Whitehorse's Graham Nishikawa, were also named to the Canadian team on Tuesday, along with eight-time Paralympic medallist Colette Bourgonje.

They will be joined by Mark Arendz of Hartsville, P.E.I., Chris Klebl of Canmore, Alta., Brittany Hudak of Prince Albert, Sask., Ottawa's Caroline Bisson, Yves Bourque of Becancour, Que., Quebec City's Sebastien Fortier, Louis Fortin of Shippagan, N.B., Ottawa's Margarita Gorbounova, Robbi Weldon of Thunder Bay, Ont., and guide Andrea Bundon of Regina.

Canada's Paralympic team won 19 medals in 2010, but because of retirements only a handful of winners will be back in Sochi.

"Certainly it's tough to lose such great competitors like (para-alpine skier) Lauren Woolstencroft," said McKeever. "I mean five gold medals in Vancouver? It's going to be hard to replace five gold medals even with many people. That was amazing. She was just such an inspiration and we'll certainly miss having her firepower.

"Despite that, I think there's still good development within our own team. We've got more athletes capable of hitting the podium."

The Canada has set a goal of finishing third in the overall medal standings at the Paralympics, which run from March 7 to 16.

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