With three world titles and 15 other medals at world championships, we could expect Kristina Groves’s Olympic history to be just as impressive.
In Salt Lake City in 2002, her first Games were a voyage of discovery for the young skater from Ottawa. Competing in three distances, her best result was eighth place.
A Canadian double
For her second participation in the Olympic Games, in Turin in 2006, her objective this time was to go home with a medal. Entered for five of the six events of the speed skating competition (she did not enter the 500m), it was in the 1,500m that she got the closest to the Olympic title. However, she was beaten by almost 1.5 seconds by her teammate Cindy Klassen. But she could still savour her first Olympic medal!
Second place, but with an Olympic record
With her partners in the Canadian relay team, Kristina would win a second medal. Qualified for the final, Canada was pitted against Germany on the Lingotto speed skating oval. But once again, the top step of the podium was too high. After three minutes of exertion, Groves, Hughes and Nesbitt were beaten by 1.65 seconds, despite having set a new Olympic record in their first contest against the USA. The silver medal was there to comfort them. In the other events, Kristina Groves qualified for the finals every time (5th in the 1,000m, 6th in the 5,000m and 8th in the 3,000m), proving she was wonderfully consistent.
Another two medals
At the age of 33, Kristina Groves competed in her third Olympic Games in her own country, in Vancouver. In 2010, she took part in the same events as in 2006. In the 3,000m, Kristina was cheered on by her public. She had the third best time, but one of the favourites was still in the running. So she thought she had lost the coveted medal. But when the scoreboard showed Germany’s Toms in fourth place, the normally calm Kristina could exult for once. She won the bronze by three-hundredths of a second. In the 1,000m, it was she who was ejected from podium for a paltry six-hundredths of a second. The 1,500m had another nice surprise in store – she was in the last-but-one pair to set off. Despite a remarkable time, she could not oust the Dutch skater from first place, but the medal was within reach. It would have taken a real stroke of bad luck for the two last competitors to overtake her. And this did not happen, so Groves won the silver, her fourth Olympic medal.
Fifth with the best time
Sixth in the 5,000m, Groves and her compatriots were in the running for the last relay event. Competing against the USA in the quarter-final, they lost their medal hopes on the first lap. Despite the third-best time of all the teams, they were eliminated. In the ranking race, they took fifth place, with the fastest time in the whole competition. Even without a gold medal, Kristina entered the very closed circle of Canadian athletes with four Olympic medals.