Cindy Klassen was a six-time Olympic medalist and the only Canadian to have won five medals in a single Olympic games. Cindy found herself on the Olympic podium for the first time at the 2002 Winter Olympics where she received a bronze in the 3000m. Four years later, Cindy won five medals at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Cindy was a nine-time world champion. She broke seven international records and six world records including the 3000m world record and the Canadian record for the 1500m and the 5000m. During her 15 year career, Cindy won 115 international medals; 46 gold, 41 silver and 28 bronze. She became the first Canadian in 27 years to win a title at the World Allround Speed Skating Championships.
At 17, Cindy tried out for the 1998 Olympic Women’s Hockey team but was not chosen. She followed her parents’ advice and switched to Speed Skating. In 1999, Cindy relocated to Calgary to pursue speed skating and her goal of winning an Olympic medal. Cindy quickly climbed the ranks and while competing at her first Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, she received her first Olympic medal; a Bronze in the 3000m. A year later, Cindy finished second overall at the World Sprint Championships and won the overall title at the World Allround Speed Skating Championship, becoming the first Canadian to do so in 27 years. It was also the first time in 15 years that a skater had taken both overall medals at both events in the same year.
In the fall of 2003, Cindy took a fall in training and injured 12 tendons in her forearm. She returned to training two months later and in March 2004, was back on the podium with silver in the 1500 and bronze in 1000m at the World Single Distance Championship. In 2005, Cindy won the 1500m World Cup Title for the second time and at the World Championships became a two-time gold medalist, winning both the 1500m and the 3000m.
In 2006, Cindy became the first Canadian to win five medals at one Olympic Games. She won the gold in the 1500m, silver in the 1000m and the Team Pursuit, and bronze in the 5000m and the 3000m. This earned Cindy the prestigious role of Flag Bearer at Canada’s Closing Ceremonies of the Turin Winter Olympics. Further in 2006, Cindy was awarded the Oscar Mathisen Award, the Order of Manitoba, the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award for Female Athlete of the Year, and was the winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy for Canadian Athlete of the Year. Cindy was also named Speed Skating Canada’s Female Skater of the Year for Long Track Speed Skating in 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Cindy worked with numerous charities and was an ambassador of women’s sports in other countries. She became a role model on and off the ice, working to provide girls and women opportunities to participate in sports.
“Cindy has made an indelible mark on her sport, on the community and on Canada.” said Dale Henwood, President and CEO of the Canadian Sport Institute. “She is a caring and giving person, genuinely humble and values based in all she does. Cindy is known for her strong character and exceptional work ethic. Her ethical approach and love for sport are passed on through both her words and actions.”
The image of Cindy speed skating graced 22 million Canadian quarters as part of the Royal Canadian Mint 'Olympic Winter Moments' circulation coin program. 3 million of those quarters featured a red maple leaf.
Cindy officially retired from Speed Skating on June 20, 2015 to finish her degree in psychology and join the Calgary Police Service as a Constable. Even retired, Cindy continues to support Speed Skating by attending events at the Olympic Oval during World Cups and World Championship events to cheer on Team Canada. Cindy has been inducted in the Calgary Oval Hall of Champions, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, and the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.