Winter Olympic queen

TURIN -- For the first time since these Olympics began, a heavy snowfall finally gave this northern Italian city a Winter Games look yesterday.

Appropriate, then, that a Winnipegger continues to put her stamp on the Games, making a little Canadian history along the way.

Speed skater Cindy Klassen's silver in the 1,000 metres yesterday makes her the overall medal leader here with three.

If that wasn't enough, the 26-year-old is also the first woman in Canadian history to win three medals at a single Winter Olympics.

A former hockey player, Klassen has stickhandled through Catriona Le May Doan, Nancy Greene, Karen Percy, Annie Perreault and Nathalie Lambert -- a pretty impressive lineup, by any standards.

Is it too late to put her on the men's hockey team?

Funny thing is, immediately following her historic rush, she didn't even know she'd put the puck in the net.

"When I crossed the line, I didn't think my time was going to hold up," a disbelieving Klassen said. "I didn't think I'd be on the podium at all. I went down into the tunnel thinking maybe fifth or sixth."

She was so convinced she'd blown it, she skated over to where her parents were sitting and asked if they were going to bother sticking around.

"Cindy asked if were were going to go home after the half," her mom, Helga, said. "She said, 'Are you leaving?' Can you imagine? Of course not!"

Cindy herself went down to a training area, got on a stationary bike in front of a TV and got ready to watch the rest of the field take a run at her time: 1:16.09.

Sure enough, three pairs later, Dutch skater Marianne Timmer edged her by .04 seconds to take first place. And there were still seven pairs to come.

"I thought it would be, like, boom-boom-boom; every pair was going to be beating my time," Klassen said. "But somehow I held on."

Defending gold medallist Chris Witty of the U.S., rising Dutch star Ireen Wust, already a gold medallist in the 3,000, and hometown favourite Chiara Simionato -- one by one they tried to knock Klassen off.

"After the second-last pair went, I thought maybe I have a shot," Klassen said.

"It was hard watching, though, at the end."

The last pair included German star Anni Friesinger. Even mom and dad figured their girl was going to be bumped to at best third.

"For sure, we thought Anni would win," Jake Klassen said.

Friesinger could do no better than third, though, .06 seconds behind Klassen.

Three-for-three so far -- she also won bronze in the 3,000 -- Klassen still has her best event, the 1,500, to come Wednesday.

What's next?

"Everybody wants to win the gold medal," she said. "That would be nice. But I'm really happy with what I've done so far. My goal was to come into the Games, enjoy it and to do better than I did at the last Games. And I've achieved that already. So anything now is bonus."

And more history. No Canadian, man or woman, has ever won four medals at a Games -- Winter or Summer.