Manitoba Olympian Cindy Klassen trades skates for police badge
Skating legend has become a member of the Calgary Police Service
Olympic champion Cindy Klassen was a force on the ice, but now she she's traded in her skates for the uniform of a Calgary police officer.
The Canadian speed-skating legend, who was born and raised in Winnipeg, is a six-time Olympic medallist. She became the only Canadian athlete to reach the podium five times in a single Olympics, winning one gold, two silver and two bronze in 2006.
When she hung up her skates in 2015, she wasn't sure whether she was too old at 35 to fulfil her other childhood dream.
"The funny thing is since I was a kid I always wanted to be a police officer, and then when I finally retired from speed skating I thought, 'Oh I'm way too old to do it'," she said.
She happened to be at a sports centre when a recruiting officer stopped by and told her Calgary Police Service had hired women as old as 50. She decided to go on a couple of ride-alongs with officers and was instantly hooked.
Klassen started her training and quickly realized lessons from the ice still applied when she put on her police uniform.
"There is such a crossover — just the hard work and dedication and determination that I had from speed skating. I take that over into my career as a police officer," she said.
Team behind the badge
The team behind the badge is also similar to the team mentality of sports, she said.
"I'm part of a team again and I have a sergeant who is kind of like a coach. It feels very much like I'm in a sporting community again," she said.
After six months of training with 23 other recruits, which she said was sometimes as hard as preparing for the Olympics, Klassen started working on patrol.
Not only is the job interesting and often athletic, Klassen said, it's a great way to thank the Canadians who supported her career.
"After going through a whole career of speed skating and being given so much in my career as an athlete, I really wanted to give back and give back to the community," she said.
How many people recognize that the woman behind the badge is also one of the world's most decorated speed skaters? Not many, Klassen says.
"Sometimes people do recognize me and it's always been good," she said with a laugh. "They've congratulated me on my career and stuff like that. It doesn't happen very often."
While the athlete who was once called "the woman of the Games" only hits the ice as a member of her police district's hockey team, she said the lure of sports and Manitoba remains strong. She is in Winnipeg for the Canada Summer Games.
"It's an honour to be back here, back in Winnipeg, to be a part of the Canada Games, especially since it's the 50th anniversary," she said.
"It's a real privilege. The Canada Games they gave me so much in my sporting career and just as a person. I'm really excited to be here."