Tough act to follow

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

Unlike some of her teammates, Sherry Lawrence had a front-row seat for the podium performances last weekend at Lake Louise.

And while it was exciting and inspirational to see John Kucera and Manuel Osborne-Paradis do so well, Lawrence admits it's time for the female speedsters to make some headlines of their own.

A challenge, yes. But one they're willing to accept.

"I was up here watching and I was ecstatic. I couldn't believe it," said the 22-year-old Calgarian about witnessing Kucera win gold and Osborne-Paradis silver.

"It was amazing and a huge inspiration and we know we've got a lot to live up to but we're ready.

"A lot of girls on the team are looking for podiums. At this point in my career, a top-10 is a really good finish but, deep down, I know you're really never happy unless you're at the top. I know everyone feels the same way."

Realistically, a betting person wouldn't put the house on another Canadian hitting the podium this weekend as the women race the downhill Friday and Saturday and the super-G Sunday.

Then again, most thought if any Canuck was to grab gold last weekend, it would've been Erik Guay.

Instead, the youngest members of the team became world beaters and, by doing so, signaled to the racing powers they're not to be taken lightly.

Lawrence knows this and it makes her that much more confident going into this weekend's races.

"Just like the men's team, our team as a whole is working really, really well together right now," she said.

"We're all really happy right now. Kelly VanderBeek is skiing really fast right now, as is Britt Janyk."

Lawrence went as far as to warn fans to look out for Janyk this weekend.

"It's her first season being on the speed team and one instance this summer we were skiing with the men and she was actually beating them.

"So, I'm excited to see her race this weekend."

As for her goals, Lawrence also has reason to be optimistic. Last season, she made significant strides.

"A lot has changed in the last two years. I had an awesome year last year and I was really happy about it," she said.

"I went from just making it into the top-30 ... to really being a top-30 contender."

Her best finish was 11th in the downhill in Val d'Isere, France, last season.

"If I can improve this year as much as I did last year, I can be on the podium here and that's my goal."

Lawrence grew up racing with Kucera, so watching him stand on top of the podium was gratifying, knowing how hard he's worked for it.

"I think it's amazing what he was able to do on Sunday," she said.

"Both John and Manny really went for it and didn't hold anything back.

"The most important part of the course is Coach's through Fallaway and both of them just nailed it.

"I really like those sections and the course is in great shape right now," added Lawrence, who will begin training runs tomorrow.

With two medals to its credit, the men's team is ahead in the race but Lawrence said it's not really a competition. Or is it?

"It's not a spoken rivalry between the two teams but you know if the men's team is doing well, it becomes a huge boost," she said. "We know then we have to do well because the budget can tend to shift towards them or vice versa."


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