The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

Cindy Klassen

Speed-Skating

2006


Action photo of speed skater Cindy Klassen

Action photo of speed skater Cindy Klassen

Date
March 19, 2006
Collection
The Canadian Press/Larry MacDougal

OK…Now let’s have some fun!

Cindy Klassen was such a nervous wreck before the 3000 metre speed skating event at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, she couldn’t eat. Someone eventually dragged her out for her favourite comfort food, a quarter-pounder with cheese. She took home the bronze medal with her appetite fully restored but still hungry for improvement in her sport.

Every four years, elite athletes are granted a very tiny window to peak at just the right moment and perform at their very best on the pressure-packed Olympic stage. Somehow the word fun just doesn’t fit into that equation, yet for Cindy Klassen that became the prime objective going into the 2006 Olympics in Turin. So she kept her goals simple – do better than 2002, enjoy the experience, don’t be a ‘nervous wreck,’ and have fun. It may sound over simplistic but it is a recipe that works for Cindy because she innately takes care of the other stuff. She is a remarkable athlete driven by a deep spiritual faith to be the best she can be. She considers her strong athleticism a gift and in this spirit she puts it all out there, every day, in practice, and in competition.

The Winnipeg native, who trained in Calgary, blew through Turin like an Alberta Chinook. She was unstoppable, stockpiling medals every time she stepped on the ice at the Oval Lingotto. She started by duplicating her 2002 bronze in the 3000 metre. She ran a preliminary heat with her teammates for the Team Pursuit. The team took silver. The 1000 metre, more of a sprint, is not her best event, but it’s definitely her favourite, and she narrowly missed gold by 4/100ths of a second, taking a silver for medal number three.

During a warm-up to get a feel for the ice a few hours before her specialty, the 1500 metre,
Cindy saw a youngster running around the stands, holding a Canadian flag, just so excited to be there. It reminded her of her own goals and prompted her to show that child what a great sport speed skating is. She trounced the field by almost a second and a half earning a gold medal. Cindy capped off her brilliant Olympics in the grueling 5000 metre, securing another bronze medal. Teammate Clara Hughes took the gold. In a memorable moment they stood together on the top podium to sing ‘O Canada.’

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge declared Cindy Klassen to be Turin's "Woman of the Games." Carrying the Canadian flag into the closing ceremonies and seeing all her teammates under one roof put the icing on the cake.

Klassen is the first Canadian athlete to win five medals in one Olympics and with six total, she is Canada’s most decorated Olympian. She may also be the most humble. Although immensely proud of her achievements, the medals will not define her. What will stand out the most for Cindy is the camaraderie, the friendships, transforming the hard work into fun moments, the quest itself of getting faster and faster, the unyielding love and support of family, and the passion of coach Neil Marshall who inspired her to become a better person in the whole process. Her joy and modesty will serve as wholesome inspiration to children everywhere.

Turin queen reigns in 2006 Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

2001
Canadian Speed Skating Championships – Gold medal in Allround
2001
World Record – Small Allround 155.576 points
2002
Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games – Bronze medal in 3000m
2003
World Speed Skating Championships – Gold medal in Allround
2003
Catriona Le May Doan Award – Canada’s Top Female Speed Skater
2004
World Speed Skating Championships – Silver medal in 1500m, Bronze medal in 1000m
2005
World Single Distance Championships – Gold medal in 1500m and 3000m
2005
World Speed Skating Championships – Gold medal in 1500m and 3000m, Silver medal in Team Pursuit, Allround
2005
World Record – 1500m, 1:51.79
2006
Torino Winter Olympic Games – Gold medal in 1500m, Silver medal in 1000m and Team Pursuit, Bronze medal in 3000m and 5000m
2006
World Speed Skating Championships – Gold medal in Allround
2006
World Record – Sprint 149.305 points and Allround 154.580 points
2006
World Record – 1000m 1.13:11 and 3000m 3.53:34
2006
Oscar Mathisen Award - outstanding speed skating performance of the season
2006
Lou Marsh Memorial Award
2007
World Speed Skating Championships – Silver medal, 1500 m, Bronze medal in 3000 m, Allround, Sprint