Cindy Klassen

Last updated
Cindy Klassen
Personal information
Born (1979-08-12) August 12, 1979 (age 39)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Height1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight71 kg (157 lb; 11.2 st)
CountryFlag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada
Sport Speed skating

Cindy Klassen, OM (born August 12, 1979) is a Canadian retired long track speed skater. She is a six-time medalist having achieved one gold, two silver, three bronze at the Winter Olympics. Klassen is tied with Clara Hughes for Canada's all-time most decorated Olympian with six medals each. Both Klassen and Hughes are from Winnipeg.

Order of Manitoba award

The Order of Manitoba is a civilian honour for merit in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Instituted in 1999 when Lieutenant Governor Peter Liba granted Royal Assent to The Order of Manitoba Act, the order is administered by the Governor-in-Council and is intended to honour current or former Manitoba residents for conspicuous achievements in any field, being thus described as the highest honour amongst all others conferred by the Manitoba Crown.

Clara Hughes Canadian speed skater and racing cyclist

Clara Hughes, is a Canadian cyclist and speed skater who has won multiple Olympic medals in both sports. Hughes won two bronze in the 1996 Summer Olympics and four medals over the course of three Winter Olympics. She is tied with Cindy Klassen as the Canadian with the most Olympic medals, with six medals total.

Olympic Games major international sport event

The modern Olympic Games or Olympics are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games are considered the world's foremost sports competition with more than 200 nations participating. The Olympic Games are held every four years, with the Summer and Winter Games alternating by occurring every four years but two years apart.


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 is the current world record holder in the 3000 m. [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]

2006 Winter Olympics 20th edition of Winter Olympics, held in Turin (Italy) in 2006

The 2006 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XX Olympic Winter Games and commonly known as Turin 2006 or Torino 2006, was a winter multi-sport event which was held in Turin, Piedmont, Italy from February 10 to 26, 2006. This marked the second time that Italy had hosted the Winter Olympic Games, the first being the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo. Italy also hosted the Summer Olympics in 1960 in Rome. Turin was selected as the host city for the 2006 Games in June 1999.

Turin Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Turin is a city and an important business and cultural centre in northern Italy. It is the capital city of the Metropolitan City of Turin and of the Piedmont region, and was the first capital city of Italy from 1861 to 1865. The city is located mainly on the western bank of the Po River, in front of Susa Valley, and is surrounded by the western Alpine arch and Superga Hill. The population of the city proper is 878,074 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat to be 1.7 million inhabitants. The Turin metropolitan area is estimated by the OECD to have a population of 2.2 million.

The Adelskalender in skating is a ranking for long track speed skating based on skaters' all-time personal records for certain distances. As in samalog competitions, the skater's time for each distance is divided in 500 metre averages, truncated to 3 decimal places, and the results are then added up – the lower the sum, the better. The samalog system was introduced in 1928 in Norway, replacing ranking points in the traditional 4 distance championships, and can also be used to reconstruct scores based on personal records that were set before the samalog system was invented.

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]

Lou Marsh Trophy

The Lou Marsh Trophy, also known as the Lou Marsh Memorial Trophy and Lou Marsh Award, is a trophy that is awarded annually to Canada's top athlete, professional or amateur. It is awarded by a panel of journalists, with the vote taking place in December. It was first awarded in 1936. It is named in honour of Lou Marsh, a prominent Canadian athlete, referee, and former sports editor of the Toronto Star. Marsh died in 1936 and the trophy was named in his honour. The trophy is made of black marble and stands around 75 centimetres high. The words "With Pick and Shovel" appear above the engraved names of the winners. The voting panel consists of sports media voters from across the country including representatives from the Toronto Star, The Canadian Press, FAN590, The Globe and Mail, CBC, Rogers Sportsnet, CTV/TSN, La Presse and the National Post.

Since 1959, the Oscar Mathisen Award is awarded annually for outstanding speed skating performance of the season. The award was introduced by Oslo Skøiteklub to commemorate the legendary Norwegian speed skater Oscar Mathisen (1888–1954).

Bobbie Rosenfeld Award

The Bobbie Rosenfeld Award is an annual award given to Canada's female athlete of the year. The sports writers of the Canadian Press (CP) first conducted a poll to determine the nation's top female in 1933, naming golfer Ada Mackenzie the winner. The CP formalized the poll into an award in 1978, presenting their winner a plaque. It was named after Bobbie Rosenfeld, an all-around athlete and Olympic track and field champion whom the news organization had named its top athlete of the half-century in 1950. The award is separate from the Lou Marsh Trophy, in which a select panel of sports writers vote for their top overall athlete.


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.

Ice hockey team sport played on ice using sticks, skates, and a puck

Ice hockey is a contact team sport played on ice, usually in a rink, in which two teams of skaters use their sticks to shoot a vulcanized rubber puck into their opponent's net to score points. The sport is known to be fast-paced and physical, with teams usually consisting of six players each: one goaltender, and five players who skate up and down the ice trying to take the puck and score a goal against the opposing team.

1998 Winter Olympics 18th edition of Winter Olympics, held in Nagano (Japan) in 1998

The 1998 Winter Olympics, officially the XVIII Olympic Winter Games, and commonly known as Nagano 1998, was a winter multi-sport event celebrated from 7 to 22 February 1998 in Nagano, Japan.

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.

Tendon type of tissue that connects muscle to bone

A tendon or sinew is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension.

Record success

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.

Danielle Goyette is a Canadian former ice hockey player who played on the Canadian national team. In 2013, she was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame. In 2017, she was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Goyette was made a member of the Order of Hockey in Canada in 2018.

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 Olympics

Cindy Klassen during the 2007 World Championships Cindy Klassen (2007).jpg
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 retirement

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 medalists. [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 sports

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
500 m37.51March 18, 2006 Olympic Oval, Calgary
1000 m1:13.11March 25, 2006Olympic Oval, Calgary
1500 m1:51.79November 20, 2005 Utah Olympic Oval, Salt Lake City Former world record [2]
3000 m3:53.34March 18, 2006Olympic Oval, Calgary Former world record [2]
5000 m6:48.97March 19, 2006Olympic Oval, CalgaryCurrent Canadian record [4]
10000 m15:17.63March 25, 2002 Thialf, Heerenveen

World records

Mini combination 155.576March 15–17, 2001 Calgary
Small combination 159.723January 25–26, 2003 Salt Lake City
1500 m 1:53.87January 9, 2005Salt Lake City
Small combination159.605January 8–9, 2005Salt Lake City
1500 m1:53.77October 28, 2005Calgary
3000 m 3:55.75November 12, 2005Calgary
1500 m1:51.79November 20, 2005Salt Lake City
Small combination157.177January 21–22, 2006Calgary
3000 m3:53.34March 18, 2006Calgary
Small combination154.580March 18–19, 2006Calgary
1000 m 1:13.46March 24, 2006Calgary
1000 m1:13.11March 25, 2006Calgary
Sprint combination 149.305March 24–25, 2006Calgary
Mini combination155.456December 28–30, 2006Calgary
Mini combination154.543November 11, 2007Salt Lake City

Source: [25]

See also

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Preceded by
Lori-Ann Muenzer
Bobbie Rosenfeld Award
2005, 2006
Succeeded by
Hayley Wickenheiser
Preceded by
Steve Nash
Lou Marsh Trophy
Succeeded by
Sidney Crosby
Preceded by
Flag of the United States.svg Shani Davis
Oscar Mathisen Award
Succeeded by
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Sven Kramer