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Cindy Klassen to lead initiative aimed at increasing female participation in athlete, coach, and leadership roles within speed skating

OTTAWA, ON – Speed Skating Canada is proud to unveil the details of the 2021-2022 Female Leadership Pilot Project, an exciting gender equity initiative that the organization will undertake this coming season to help increase female participation in athlete, coach, and leadership roles within the sport of speed skating.
Funded through Sport Canada’s Innovation Initiative grant, the Female Leadership Pilot Project will see five speed skating clubs from across the country implement a tailored 6-week training program for female athletes aged 12-16 years old who are new to the sport. The program will include technical skill advancement through on-ice training, as well as a series of off-ice workshops and ancillary activities in partnership with organizations such as Fast and Female, Canadian Women & Sport and the Coaching Association of Canada.
This targeted programming will be delivered by local female coaches, who will receive guidance and mentorship from six-time Olympic medalist Cindy Klassen, the Project Lead responsible for working alongside Speed Skating Canada staff to organize and oversee the program. Klassen is certified at the Competition Development level and was recently a coach with Manitoba’s long track program at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.
Three-time Olympic medalist Marianne St. Gelais, who has been coaching full-time at the Canadian Regional Training Center (CRCE) in Montreal since September 2020, will also be involved with the project in an ambassador role. She will look to inspire both the skaters and coaching leads involved in the program through a series of virtual sessions.
Speed skating clubs from across the country are invited to submit applications for inclusion in the program. Selected clubs will be responsible for recruiting female coaches and athletes to participate, while Speed Skating Canada will provide clubs with funding to help deliver the program, covering the cost of exclusive ice time, room rental and other fees for ancillary programming. The program will be delivered by the club and local coaches during either of the fall (November-December 2021) or winter (January-February 2022) windows.

Application Process
Clubs interested in applying for inclusion in the Female Leadership Pilot Project are asked to do so using the online form below. The application deadline is September 13, and all applicants will be notified of their submission status by September 27.Complete the Application Form

Additional Information

Clubs interested in learning more about the Female Leadership Pilot Project are invited to view the recording (passcode: V.?ZwO5C) of SSC’s virtual Club Town Hall held earlier this month. We will also be releasing a Frequently Asked Questions document about the project in the coming weeks.

The Female Leadership Pilot Project will be evaluated through conversion rates – retention of female athletes and coaches following the program – as well as Competition Development certification achievement of participating coaches. A University of Calgary graduate student will be engaged to develop interviews and a survey evaluating pre-program and post-program perceptions of participating athletes and coaches. The pilot aims to increase positive views among participants in the areas of female leadership, self-confidence and empowerment, and general sport participation.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Speed Skating Canada’s Female Leadership Pilot Project, please contact Jessica Price (

This project has been made possible by the Government of Canada.

“Speed Skating Canada has observed that the recruitment, development and retention of female athletes and coaches face disproportionate challenges to the accomplishment of the same goals for male athletes and coaches. By delivering targeted programs to female athletes, by female coaches who are training under a female mentor, the hope is to enhance the perception of female leadership in speed skating and increase recruitment and retention rates for both female athletes and coaches.” – Dave Morrison, Manager, Sport Development, Speed Skating Canada

“It’s an honour to be involved in Speed Skating Canada’s Female Leadership Pilot Project for 2021-2022! It is very meaningful for me to partake in an initiative aimed at increasing female participation in athlete, coach, and leadership roles, as I was inspired by females as I began my career. I can relate to the athletes participating in this program as I only started speed skating at 18 years old, coming to the sport from hockey. I had female coaches who believed in me and encouraged me to pursue the sport, and I found inspiration through watching Catriona Le May Doan and Susan Auch win gold and silver respectively in the 1998 Olympics. I’m excited to see the impact this project will have in terms of growing female participation in all areas of speed skating, and the general confidence it will provide to the participants that they can carry into all aspects of life moving forward.” – Cindy Klassen, Project Lead, Female Leadership Pilot Project

Alain Brouillette
Speed Skating Canada

Project Scope
Application Form
Club Town Hall Recording
(passcode: V.?ZwO5C)