Canuck team serves notice to world this weekend

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

LAKE LOUISE -- With two medals and several other solid performances this weekend, the Canadian men's speed team signaled to the world they're for real.

A gold-silver start for two different athletes, young ones at that, has the team beaming at the prospect of what could be for the rest of the season.

"It's a great confidence builder, obviously," said Calgary's John Kucera, who won a gold medal in the super-G yesterday at the Winterstart World Cup. "After seeing (Manuel Osborne-Paradis) that helped me build confidence. I knew I could do it. I wanted to achieve the same level of performance that he did."

Osborne-Paradis set the standard for the weekend by capturing the silver medal Saturday in the downhill.

Not to be outdone, his roommate, Kucera, followed up that solid performance with a gold medal, the first for any Canadian ski racer at Lake Louise.

"It's great for the home country to have a podium finish," said Olympic and World champion Hermann Maier.

It is, but there's no need to tell Ken Read, because he's been expecting his young, talented racers to finally break through.

And that they've done.

"Racing in Lake Louise where the pressure and expectations are high because we are skiing on home snow is great conditioning for the big events like the world championships and the Olympics," said the Alpine Canada CEO. "This is great training for 2010."

According Kucera, the good results from this weekend will not only help the Canadian racers with their confidence levels but also prompt more competition within the team.

"What a weekend this is indeed," said Guay, Team Canada's unofficial captain.

"John is the first Canadian to win at home (in 17 years). This will keep us all on our toes for the rest of the season."


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