FRENCH NEWS: Kristina Groves announces retirement from competitive speed skating

Groves Reflects on successful career and shares future plans in environmental advocacy, speaking engagements and charitable Work

CALGARY – Surrounded by friends, teammates, coaches and support staff, four-time Olympic Medalist Kristina Groves announced her official retirement from competitive speed skating, reflected on her 23-year career in the sport and discussed plans for her future.

“After 23 years of training and competing, the time has come for me to retire from the sport that has given me so much in my life. My decision stems from a combination of feeling completely fulfilled by a long and successful career and the desire to pursue other challenges in my life,” said Groves. “Knowing that I could go back but choose not to has made the decision more difficult but also more empowering.”

Kristina also took the time to address her recent struggles with post-concussion syndrome she’s experienced since a fall in November 2010 at a World Cup in Germany.

“I would like to be clear that my decision to retire it not related to the concussion injury I sustained last season. I feel recovered and have been active and exercising again since the end of June,” said Groves. “I’m thankful that it came at the end of my career and did not prevent me from achieving my goals or derailing my career as a young athlete.”

Kristina will best be remembered for her double-medal performance at both the Vancouver 2010 and Torino 2006 Olympic Games but it’s her daily commitment to incremental improvement and teamwork that captured the eye of her coach Xiuli Wang.

“The reason for Kristina’s success was her obvious unfailing discipline in the sport,” said Wang. “What set Kristina apart was that she combined this approach with a selfless effort to see that her teammates were also improving. It has been my honour to work with her over past eight and a half years.”

In addition to her four Olympic medals, Kristina’s accomplishments in the sport have shown consistency as an all-round skater, competing in five events for the greater part of her career.

Kristina retires from competitive speed skating with an impressive resume:

  • 2010 Olympic Silver Medalist – 1500m
  • 2010 Olympic Bronze Medalist – 3000m
  • 2006 Olympic Silver Medalist – 1500m
  • 2006 Olympic Silver Medalist – Team Pursuit
  • 2008 World Champion – 3000m
  • 2009 and 2010 World Allround Championship Silver Medalist
  • 2008-10, World Cup Overall Champion – 1500m
  • Canada’s most decorated World Single Distances Championships speed skater with 13 medals
  • 2008, 2009 and 2010 Speed Skating Canada Female Athlete of the Year – Long Track
  • Over 35 World Cup medals since her first podium performance in Norway in November 2004

For Speed Skating Canada CEO, JP Cody-Cox, Kristina’s accomplishments on the ice have been complemented by her volunteer commitment to SSC off the ice as well.

“For the past 13 years, Kristina has been a constant reminder of the incredible depth of our team. Her approach to training has provided a solid example for younger skaters of the patience and commitment required to be great,” said Cody-Cox.

“Her contribution to the culture of our organization through her volunteer work with the SSC Sustainability Committee has shown real leadership and we look forward to our continued collaboration.”

Kristina’s future plans will focus on the charitable work and passionate interests that have come to define her outside of the sport including Right to Play and Clean Air Champions.

A conscientious environmental advocate, Kristina recently hosted a John-and-Yoko-style Bed-In for Sustainability that drew praise from Yoko Ono herself and has inspired Kristina to continue her volunteer work to advance the discussion, education and awareness that leads to positive social and behavioral change in Canada.

“When I hosted the Bed-In for Sustainability in Calgary that really furthered my motivation to pursue environmental advocacy work. I will be doing more public speaking, more writing, and more volunteering,” added Groves.

In a closing note, Kristina added: “Speed skating, and sport, will always be a huge part of my life but I am also keen to discover new passions and expand my interests. Although this journey has come to an end, I’m curious and excited to see what I can accomplish next, although it might take another 23 years to get there.”

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