CALGARY -- Despite the fact it’s the offseason for luge, national team athlete Carolyn Maxwell has been a fixture training on the lawn of the Canadian Sport Institute at WinSport in Calgary.

The 21-year-old, who has never been afraid of a little hard work, finds herself as the oldest member, a veteran presence, on a young team as she looks to build off her successful 2020-21 campaign.

Maxwell finished the season on a high note with a gold medal performance at the Whistler Canada Cup and a second-place finish at the Whistler Canadian Championships.

She doesn't mind being viewed as a leader on the Canadian women's team even if she is still just 21.

"I think it came a bit early," Maxwell said. "I was not expecting (it) if you asked me four years ago if I was going to be the oldest. But with having such a young team we're all very supportive of each other and we're all still learning so I do try to take on more of a leader role."

Maxwell got into luge at a young age as her family was friends with the family of doubles luger Justin Snith.  Her family decided to go over to Sochi, Russia in 2014 to watch Snith compete in the Winter Olympics and the experience left a lasting impression on the teen. 

"When you're watching it on the highest level it was pretty cool to watch," recalled Maxwell in an interview with CTV News. "I know for him it was really upsetting because he came in fourth twice but when you're 13 years old and you know someone who finished fourth at the Olympics it's pretty cool and really exciting. 

"You get to brag to your friends about that."

Maxwell had always been intrigued by the sport and after watching Snith at the Olympics she decided to give it a try at the age of 14.

Snith is eight years older than Maxwell so he's the mentor, but the athletes act like siblings and don't mind taking the odd jab at one another.

"As much as I hate to admit it, a lot," said Maxwell of how she looks up to Snith. "Growing up with him, he is a really big influence.  It's nice having someone so close to you on the team."

Snith has watched Maxwell grow up and says it's pretty cool that she's now on the national team with him.

"You know it's definitely something (I'm) getting used to," Snith said. "You know a younger sibling in my eyes kind of come onto the team but it's definitely been fun having her around and showing her the ropes and the tracks and trying to impart as much knowledge and wisdom as I have with the sport onto her and the younger generation."

Maxwell says she has one goal in mind for the upcoming season.

"This year I'm definitely looking to qualify for Bejing (Winter Olympics).  I know that would be a big deal and I know my parents, and even Justin's parents, they would really look forward to seeing the two of us compete together."

Snith agrees and thinks it would be great to compete on the world's biggest stage with Maxwell.

"It would be huge," said Snith. "It would be kind of full circle but we both (have) got to get their first."