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Klassen taking the year off from speed skating

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Cindy Klassen's five-medal haul from the Torino Winter Olympics on exhibit at the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Cindy Klassen's five-medal haul from the Torino Winter Olympics on exhibit at the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

Cindy Klassen is putting her speed-skating career on the shelf for a year, and could decide to hang up the skates for good.

The decorated Manitoban Olympian, now 33, announced today that she would step away from the sport for the 2014-15 season. Instead, she will focus on her studies at the University of Calgary.

"I think taking a step away from skating… will help me to determine whether I am ready to hang up the blades for good and pursue something new or get back into skating once again," Klassen said in a statement. "This time off will also give my body a chance to recover from so many years of hard training and hopefully heal some of the minor lingering injuries."

Klassen, who is tied with fellow Manitoban Clara Hughes as Canada’s all-time most decorated Olympian, remains the only Canadian athlete to have earned five medals in a single Olympic Games, which she achieved in 2006. She had also earned a bronze medal in the 2002 Olympics.

After enduring double-knee surgery and a two-year hiatus from skating, she returned to Olympic competition in Vancouver in 2010, where she did not medal. She continued to compete, however, and helped the Canadian team pursuit squad win gold at the 2011 World Championships, and silver the next year.

Another Olympian, Alberta’s Anastasia Bucsis, will also take the 2014-15 season off, Speed Skating Canada announced.

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