Cathy Turnbull began her speed skating career in 1969 with the Regina Speed Skating Club. In 1978, 1979, and 1980 Cathy won the Canadian Senior Women’s Short Track title, breaking records in all distances each year. She won the Canadian Senior Long Track Championship in 1980.
Cathy was the North American senior women’s champion in 1978, 1979, and 1980, holding several North American records. In 1979, at the World Short Track Championships, Cathy set a world record in the 1000-metre. She completed these championships with two gold, two silver, and one bronze medal, tying for first-place points overall. Cathy was named an alternate to the Canadian Long Track Team at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.