Speed Skating Canada congratulates its Olympians Cindy Klassen & Marcel Lacroix, new inductees at the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame

Photo Credit: Jeff Bough

Ottawa, April 2, 2014 – Speed Skating Canada would like to congratulate its Olympians, long track star Cindy Klassen and coach Marcel Lacroix as the Canadian Olympic Committee announced, today, their nomination to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. The gala will be held Friday, June 6, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg, MB, and Marcel Lacroix from Montreal, QC, won or contributed to six Olympic medals each in three Olympic Games.

"What makes Cindy Klassen a great athlete, along with a natural athletic talent, is her incredible work ethic and her ability to create her best performances during the big races in the face of expectations and pressure", said her coach from 2004 to 2008, including at the 2006 Olympic Games where she won five medals, Neal Marshall, about Cindy Klassen, actually out of the country. "During the 2006 Olympic Games, her level of focus throughout five events was incredible."

"In stark contrast to her killer instinct when the starter pistol would go off, is the Cindy Klassen most people see. It has always been equally impressive to me to see her remain genuinely humble, kind and appreciative of everything the sport has given her. She has always truly put sportsmanship and the love of sport above all else. Based on her Olympic performances, and her character as an athlete, Cindy is an extremely deserving inductee into the Olympic Hall of Fame."

"I'm very honoured to be inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame", said Marcel Lacroix. "Coaches in their humble professions don't aspire to those types of honours. A coach's job is to help athletes and teams strive to becoming the best and in return getting those types of recognitions. For me, to have this kind of honour is something I never even thought of.”

"It’s a moment of great pride for all the Speed Skating Canada community members to see Cindy Klassen and Marcel Lacroix inducted in the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame", said Speed Skating Canada’s President, Marie-Claire Rouleau.

"Cindy Klassen, the "queen" of the 2006 Olympic Games with her historical performance of five medals, showed all her determination, her hard work and her talent throughout her career and she is still a model for all Canadians. For Marcel Lacroix, this honour of the Canadian Olympic Committee is very symbolic to all coaches across the country and especially for him as he contributed directly to six Canadian medals and to the development of our national heroes. On behalf of our members across Canada, congratulations for this honour showing one again the strong history of our sport in Canada."

Those two legends will join 15 other Canadian speed skating representatives already enshrined in the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, including 10 in long track speed skating – Susan Auch (2010), Gordon Audley (1998), Gaétan Boucher (1984), Sylvia Burka (1977), Maurice Gagné (2006, Bâtisseur), Charles Gorman I (1952), Jean Grenier (1995, Builder), Catriona Le May Doan (2008), Cathy Priestner (1994) and Jean Wilson (1971) -  and five in short track – the 1998 Gold medalist men’s short track relay team including Éric Bédard, Derrick Campbell, François Drolet and Marc Gagnon (2004), Sylvie Daigle (1991), Marc Gagnon (2007), Nathalie Lambert (1992) and Maryse Perreault (1992).

Cindy Klassen

Cindy Klassen won six medals in three Olympic Games. She is the only Canadian athlete to have won five medals in one Olympic Games in 2006, including a gold medal in the 1,500m, silver in the 1,000m and at the women's team pursuit event with Kristina Groves, Clara Hughes, Christine Nesbitt and Shannon Rempel, and bronze medals in the 5,000m and 3,000m events. Her achievement was recognized by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge who called her the “woman of the Games”. She was given the honour of being the Canadian flag bearer at the closing ceremony. She also got a bronze medal in the 3,000m event at the 2002 Olympic Games and took part in the 1,500m, 3,000m and 5,000m at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes are tied for Canada's all-time most decorated Olympian.

Cindy Klassen has owned the world record in the 1,500m since 2005 and in the 3,000m since 2006. She won the Lou Marsh Trophy in 2006 as the Canada’s athlete of the year in a vote by national media, the female Athlete of the Year Award in 2007 at the Canadian Sports Awards, and the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as female athlete of the year in 2005 and 2006 by The Canadian Press.

"During the time I worked with, or observed Cindy, she has proven to be an extremely gifted athlete", added Neal Marshall. "Her best races were incredible, awe inspiring performances, many of which remain the benchmark in the sport today, years later."

Marcel Lacroix

Coach Marcel Lacroix led his athletes to six Olympic medals, including four gold and two silver, in three Olympic Games. In Vancouver in 2010, he contributed to the gold medals of Christine Nesbitt in the 1,000m, the one the men's team pursuit skated by Mathieu Giroux, Denny Morrison and Lucas Makowsky. He also brought the men’s short track relay team including Éric Bédard, Derrick Campbell, François Drolet and Marc Gagnon on the first step of the podium at the 1998 Olympic Games. After he switched to long track, Marcel led American star Shani Davis to gold in the 1,000m and to silver in the 1,500m; and the men's team pursuit — including Arne Dankers, Steven Elm, Denny Morrison, Jason Parker and Justin Warsylewicz — to silver at the 2006 Olympic Games. He is the only Canadian coach to have coached athletes to Olympic medals in both long track and short track speed skating.

Marcel Lacroix, currently the Associate Director of Sport at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, received the Longines-Wittnauer Award seven times, was Speed Skating Canada’s 2004 Coach of the Year, and has been a Coaching Association of Canada Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award recipient eight times. In 2011, he received the Jack Donahue award as Coach of the Year from Coaches of Canada.

"Through out all those years, I have a multitude of highlights that can put a smile on my face and feel good about what got accomplished. But if I have to pick, it would be the gold medals of Christine Nesbitt in the 1000 m and the men's Team Pursuit at the 2010 Olympic Games. To see them receive their medals, see our flags being raised and our anthem being sang, it was a moment in time that can't be described in words but can only be felt."

"There are many people that directly help me become the coach I became and deserve to be thanked. One of them has to be Jacques Thibault who gave me in 1993 a unique opportunity to develop my coaching skills at the Olympic Oval. I also have to thank all of the athletes I coached who believed in my coaching methods that were for most of the time very demanding. Lastly, I would have not being able to do what I did for all those years without the unconditional support from my best friend and spouse Leah."