The Little Speed Skating Engine that Could

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Kristina Groves’ Olympic dream was sparked as an 11-year-old girl trying to win the lottery for the chance to run with the Olympic torch in the 1988 Olympic Games relay. Watching Canadian legend Gaetan Boucher race during those Olympics convinced her she wanted to be a speed skater.

Never considered a future star, she ground it out bit by bit to become a world champion and four-time Olympic medalist, gritting her teeth when people said they didn't believe she was a speed skater because her legs weren't big enough.

Through a strong love of the sport and a wholehearted commitment to simply improving, Kristina patiently climbed the international rankings and eventually won her first World Cup medal, a gold, in a 3000m race in 2004. 

Dogged, steady improvement led to Kristina consistently reaching the podium at World Cup and World Championship competitions. In 2006 she won two silver medals – 1500m and Team Pursuit – at the Olympic Games in Torino. Determined to reach a level that many never thought possible, Kristina sowed the seeds of hard work and reaped the rewards late in her career.

Performance Excellence

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In 2008, Kristina won an unprecedented five medals at the World Single Distance Championships in Nagano Japan, including gold in the 3000m.  She is the first, and so far only, skater to have achieved this feat at the World Single Distance Championships.

During the 2008-2009 World Cup season, Kristina won 12 medals including four gold. During the 2009 World Single Distances Championships held at the Richmond Olympic Oval, her career took an amazing turn when she became the most decorated speed skating athlete in Canada at this event, surpassing the well-known Jeremy Wotherspoon with 13 medals.

She has won the overall World Cup title in the 1500m three times - in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Most recently Kristina won two more Olympic medals at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, bronze in the 3000m and silver in the 1500m.  Kristina spent 13 years on the Canadian team and won a total of 34 individual World Cup medals.

A Balanced Life & Desire to Give Back

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Throughout her long career, Kristina remained committed to pursuing her education and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiolgy from the University of Calgary in 2004. Kristina also took courses in public speaking, including the Dale Carnegie program in 2001.

In addition to pursuing sporting and academic excellence, Kristina is involved in a number of causes – as an Athlete Ambassador for Right To Play, a humanitarian organization that uses sport and play for development, as an athlete speaker for Clean Air Champions, an educational program about climate change and air quality and as an athlete speaker for the Canadian Sport Centre Calgary's YES Program.

She was invited to attend the 2008 Climate Project Canada in Montreal and was part of a group that spent time with climate change activists Al Gore and David Suzuki and also received some unexpected praise and encouragement from Yoko Ono for her work in organizing and hosting a "Bed-In for Sustainability” with community leaders in Calgary.

In 2011, Kristina was honoured as the U of C Distinguished Alumni of the Decade for a decade of consistent athletic performance, her work with Right To Play and for building green initiatives in Speed Skating Canada. She was also honoured with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for her significant and ongoing contributions to Right To Play.

A Girl with a Voice

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Kristina is an accomplished and experienced public speaker who delivers powerful, inspiring and challenging presentations to a diverse range of audiences including corporate, sport and education groups throughout Canada and around the world. 

A refreshing combination of honesty, humility and humour compliment the strong, insightful messages Kristina shares about her life in sport, performance excellence, a passion for sustainability and the ability within all of us to make positive changes in our lives and the world we live in.

Onwards and upwards!

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Now retired from competition, Kristina will begin her Masters of Science in Sustainable Energy Development at the University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business starting in May 2013. 

In the meantime, she is planning and building a new sustainable and energy efficient inner city Calgary home with her partner Scott Maw and providing colour commentary for CBC Sports’ speed skating coverage.

She is also doing some volunteer work for the Pembina Institute, blogging for the Huffington Post and mentoring development skaters on the Canadian National Team. 

Kristina enjoys her newfound freedom to pursue other passions including rowing, skiing, mountain biking, exploring the Rockies and staying up past 10pm.

        Career Highlights

  • 4-time Olympic medalist
  • Canada's most decorated skater at the World Single Distances Championship with 13 career medals including a record 5-medal performance in 2008
  • 2008 World Champion 3000m
  • 3-time overall 1500m World Cup Champion 2008, 2009, 2010
  • 2nd overall at 2009 & 2010 World All-Round Championships
  • 3rd overall at 2006 & 2008 World All-Round Championships
  • 34 Individual World Cup Medals
  • World Record holder, Team Pursuit
  • Olympian, 2002, 2006 & 2010

        Awards

  • 2011 Graduate of the Last Decade - University of Calgary
  • 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2011 Paul Harris Fellowship - Rotary Club of West Ottawa
  • 2009 Alberta Female Athlete of the Year
  • Speed Skating Canada Female Athlete of the Year 2007-2010
  • Ottawa Female Athlete of the Year 2004, 2006-2010
  • 2007 Canadian Spirit of Sport Award (with Clara Hughes & Arne Dankers)

        Factoids

  • Nickname: Grover
  • Hometown: Ottawa, ON.
  • Hero: Terry Fox
  • Likes: Rowing! Mountain biking! Skiing! Also, gardening, reading, being outside, fresh air and daisies.
  • Dislikes: Bare feet on cold tiles, perfumes of any kind, unnecessary use of toxic chemicals, shopping malls, YYC sprawl
  • Strengths: Gluten-free baking, biking, blogging, starting home renos
  • Weaknesses: Dark chocolate, Kettle Chips, chips of any kind, finishing home renos
  • Pet Peeves: Leaf blowers, bottled water, dripping faucets, loud commercials

        Beyond the Oval

  • 2010 IdeaCity Keynote Speaker
  • Canadian Olympic Committee 2014 Workshop & Panel Discussion Facilitator
  • CBC Sports Speed Skating Analyst
  • Mentor to current National  & Development Team speed skaters
  • Huffington Post contributor
  • Great White North Half Ironman finisher
  • Right To Play Athlete Ambassador
  • Speaker at Pecha Kucha Calgary #8 
  • BSc. Kinesiology
  • MSc. Sustainable Energy Development
  • 2013 Speaker at Alberta Sustainable Building Symposium