Cindy Klassen

Cindy Klassen, OM (born August 12, 1979) is a Canadian retired long track speed skater. She is a six-time medallist having achieved one gold, two silver, three bronze at the Winter Olympics.

Cindy Klassen
Personal information
Born (1979-08-12) August 12, 1979 (age 42)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Height1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight71 kg (157 lb; 11.2 st)
Country Canada
SportSpeed skating

She is the only Canadian Olympian to win five medals in a single Olympic games and the first female speed skater to win five medals in a single games at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.[1] She was a world record holder in the 3000 m until March 2019, when her time was beaten by Martina Sáblíková.[2] She also holds the Canadian records over 1500 m and 5000 m.[3][4] Klassen is the leader of the Adelskalender, which is the all-time world ranking for speed skating. In 2003, Klassen became the first Canadian in 27 years to win the overall title at the World Speed Skating Championships.[3]

Klassen has several major awards and accolades to her name having won the Lou Marsh Trophy in 2006, which is awarded for Canada's best athlete of the year. Due to her tremendous accomplishments at the 2006 Winter Olympics and her many accomplishments throughout her career, Klassen was named to the Order of Manitoba.[5] Klassen was awarded the Oscar Mathisen Award in 2006 for outstanding speed skating performance of the year. In 2007, she was given the award for Female Athlete of the Year at the Canadian Sports Awards.[3] Klassen won the 2005 and 2006 Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as female athlete of the year as presented from the Canadian Press.[3] She was also tipped as Speed Skating Canada's 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 Female Skater of the Year for long track speed skating.[3] The Canadian Mint featured Klassen on a Canadian quarter in 2010 as part of their Olympic memories editions and as a recognition of her six Olympic medals.[6]


Klassen started her sports career as an ice hockey player at Gateway Community Club in Winnipeg; in her youth she played for the Canadian national youth team. When she was not selected for the 1998 Winter Olympics, she switched to speed skating and soon she proved to be a natural talent.

Klassen missed the entire 2003–04 season due to a serious injury: she fell during training, colliding with another skater, hitting his skate, and as a result cutting twelve tendons in her right arm.

Record successEdit

In 2006, she announced she would not carry the Canadian flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, although she had not yet been asked. The flag was instead carried by women's ice hockey veteran Danielle Goyette.

Going into the 2006 Winter Olympics, Klassen was considered one of the favourites following her allround title in 2003 and two world distance titles in 2005.[7] Klassen started out in Turin by winning a silver in the 1000 m, narrowly missing out on gold.[8] Following this silver Klassen became Olympic champion in the 1500 m. She followed this thrilling gold with a silver in the women's team pursuit, and bronze in the 3000 m and 5000 m.[8] Following her fifth and final medal of the Games on February 26, 2006, Klassen said of her success that "Going into the Games, I thought maybe the 1500 and 3000 would be my strong point and maybe I could get a medal in those. To come out with five, it's been better than expected and really a dream come true."[8]

Klassen became the first Canadian to win five medals in one Olympic Games. With this achievement, she tied American Eric Heiden's record of five medals won at an Olympics (1980) by a speed skater. At the same time, she overtook the previous Canadian record of most medals (three) in 1984, held by Gaétan Boucher. Klassen also became the first female speed skater to win five medals in a single Olympics, surpassing Lidiya Skoblikova's four medals in the 1964 Olympics.[1] Combined with her bronze medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics, she became the first Canadian to win six career Olympic medals, surpassing the five medal mark set previously by Marc Gagnon and Phil Edwards and matched in the same race by winner Clara Hughes at the same 2006 Winter Olympic games.[8]

After her success at the Turin Olympics, she was named flagbearer for the closing ceremony. Her winning the largest number of medals at the Turin Olympics caused IOC president Jacques Rogge to call her the "woman of the games".[9] The following day, February 27, Klassen signed the most lucrative endorsement deal ever for a Canadian amateur athlete, with Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS), estimated at about $1 million. Klassen also signed an endorsement deal with McDonald's. On December 11, she was named as the winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canadian athlete of the year, beating out the likes of Joe Thornton, Justin Morneau, Steve Nash and teammate Clara Hughes.[1]

Surgery and the 2010 OlympicsEdit

Cindy Klassen during the 2007 World Championships

In preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Klassen decided not to participate in the fall races for the Speed Skating World Cup. She returned to competition in 2008 but decided to cut the skating season short in February 2008 after her sister was in a near-fatal accident.[10] She also said that she will only focus on the World Single Distance Championships. Defending her all-around title and high World Cup classifications are not her main goal for the season.[11][12] Later that year in July 2008 Klassen had surgery to repair damage done to her knees over her career and in high school basketball.[13] The surgeries would keep her from competing in the 2008–09 World Cup. Sometime later in 2009, her doctor discussed her knees saying that "These things don't go away, they're not cured. It's not like a broken bone that once it's healed it's back to good strength and can take stress. It's not like that. It's never going to be perfectly normal. It's not possible to get that." He later added that the only way her knees would stop degenerating would be for Klassen to stop speed skating.[14]

On January 5, 2010, the Royal Canadian Mint announced that they were minting 22 million Canadian quarters with an image of Klassen in a speed skating pose on it. 3 million of the quarters were minted with a red maple leaf on it. The mint issued the quarters as an honour to Klassen's six medals in the Olympics, and as part of their Olympic Moments quarter-coins series.[15]

Coming back from double knee-surgery and two years off of skating, Klassen's main goal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver was simply to compete. Klassen saying that "My goal is just to qualify. To get there would be great."[16] She failed to medal in 2010, placing 21st in the 1500 m, 14th in the 3000 m, and 12th in the 5000 m. Klassen was also named as an alternate in the team pursuit.[17] While Klassen stated that she was unsure of whether she would continue speed skating after the games, she believed that her knees would hold out and that the 2014 Sochi Olympics were a possibility.[17]

Return from injury and retirementEdit

Klassen qualified for the 2010–11 World Cup in October 2010. Of qualifying, her ongoing injury struggles, and surgery recover Klassen said that "I'm just going to go out and do the best that I can and see what happens. My knees still hurt. Some days are better than others. There's always aches and pains in skating . . . for me I feel like I'm more of a work skater than technical skater. I've been able to do harder training this year than I have in the past, which is a good thing because that's kind of my strong point so I'll see where that takes me. It's been fun but it's been really hard, too."[18] At the first meet of the World Cup season Klassen got her first individual podium result since the 2007–08 season.[19] Klassen finished second in the 3000 m and followed that placing up with a fourth-place finish in the 1500 m the next day.

Despite the pain and fatigue from injuries, a further competitive gear was found for Klassen as part of the women's team pursuit. She became a part of the team that first won gold at the 2011 World Championships and then came back at the 2012 Worlds to win a silver as repeat medallists.[20] That same season she had also helped to pull the women to the top of the World Cup title, winning three of four races that year together with Brittany Schussler and Christine Nesbitt.

She retired in June 2015 after the tail end of her career was hampered by injuries. Klassen issued a retirement interview stating "It's been an incredible honour to represent Canada in speed skating for 15 years. Speed skating has been a blessing in my life. It has provided me with unbelievable experiences and has taught me many life lessons."[21]

Post retirement from sportsEdit

After retirement from sports, she has finished a degree in psychology and joined the Calgary Police Service as a constable.[22]





On March 18, 2006, Cindy Klassen Set the women's 3000m world record in Calgary, Canada, which stood almost 13 years until March 2, 2019. Martina Sáblíková beat Klassen's time of 3:53.34 by 0.03 seconds at the Allround World Championships in Calgary. Cindy Klassen is the leader of the Adelskalender, the all-time world ranking.

Personal records[24]
Women's speed skating
Event Result Date Location Notes
500 m 37.51 March 18, 2006 Olympic Oval, Calgary
1000 m 1:13.11 March 25, 2006 Olympic Oval, Calgary
1500 m 1:51.79 November 20, 2005 Utah Olympic Oval, Salt Lake City Former world record[2]
3000 m 3:53.34 March 18, 2006 Olympic Oval, Calgary Former world record[2]
5000 m 6:48.97 March 19, 2006 Olympic Oval, Calgary Current Canadian record[4]
10000 m 15:17.63 March 25, 2002 Thialf, Heerenveen

World recordsEdit

Event Time Date Venue
Mini combination 155.576 March 15–17, 2001 Calgary
Small combination 159.723 January 25–26, 2003 Salt Lake City
1500 m 1:53.87 January 9, 2005 Salt Lake City
Small combination 159.605 January 8–9, 2005 Salt Lake City
1500 m 1:53.77 October 28, 2005 Calgary
3000 m 3:55.75 November 12, 2005 Calgary
1500 m 1:51.79 November 20, 2005 Salt Lake City
Small combination 157.177 January 21–22, 2006 Calgary
3000 m 3:53.34 March 18, 2006 Calgary
Small combination 154.580 March 18–19, 2006 Calgary
1000 m 1:13.46 March 24, 2006 Calgary
1000 m 1:13.11 March 25, 2006 Calgary
Sprint combination 149.305 March 24–25, 2006 Calgary
Mini combination 155.456 December 28–30, 2006 Calgary
Mini combination 154.543 November 11, 2007 Salt Lake City


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Klassen wins Lou Marsh Award". CBC News. December 11, 2006. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
  2. ^ a b c "World Records". Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Speed Skating Canada Bio". Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2010-10-14.
  4. ^ a b "National Records". Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  5. ^ "Prestigious Sport Award to be Presented to Cindy Klassen". Retrieved 2010-10-14.
  6. ^ "Mint Releases 25-Cent Coin Celebrating Cindy Klassen's Five Medals in Long-Track Speed Skating in 2006". Retrieved 2010-01-05.
  7. ^ "Cindy Klassen Biography and Olympic Results". Sports Reference. February 26, 2010. Archived from the original on February 21, 2012. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  8. ^ a b c d "Klassen becomes Canada's greatest Olympian". CTV News. December 11, 2006. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  9. ^ CBC: "Canada: Olympic powerhouse?" Retrieved June 7, 2007.
  10. ^ Klassen cancels skating season to care for sister Archived 2011-05-20 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Olympic champion Cindy Klassen delays start to speed skating season[permanent dead link],
  12. ^ Cindy Klassen neemt even pauze Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine,
  13. ^ "Cindy Klassen on road to recovery after knee surgery". Canadian Press. January 11, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
  14. ^ "Klassen skating through the pain". Toronto Star. October 23, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
  15. ^ "Mint honours speedskater Cindy Klassen with coin". CBC News. January 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
  16. ^ "Klassen has long way to go, short time to get there". Edmonton Journal. December 7, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-26.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ a b "Klassen, named pursuit team alternate, faces questions about future after Games". Winnipeg Free Press. 2010-02-26.
  18. ^ John Downs (October 21, 2010). "Klassen qualifies for World Cup speed skating team". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2010-11-08.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Klassen wins silver at speedskating World Cup". CBC Sports. November 13, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
  20. ^ "Canadian women grab silver at speedskating worlds". CBC Sports. March 25, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  21. ^ "Cindy Klassen, Canadian speed skating legend, retires". CBC Sports. June 20, 2015.
  22. ^ Cole, Yolande (August 4, 2017). "Former speedskater Cindy Klassen now patrolling city streets". Calgary Herald. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  23. ^ "Canada's Sports Hall of Fame". Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 11 November 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  24. ^ "Cindy Klassen". Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  25. ^ "Cindy Klassen". Retrieved January 17, 2014.

External linksEdit

Preceded by Bobbie Rosenfeld Award
2005, 2006
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lou Marsh Trophy
Succeeded by
Preceded by Oscar Mathisen Award
Succeeded by