International Ice Hockey Federation

WW Top 25 Stories: #21

WW Top 25 Stories: #21

IIHF goes to all-women officials

Published 16.03.2015 14:11 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
WW Top 25 Stories: #21
Nowadays a matter of course: female officials for women’s tournaments. Photo: Jeff Vinnick / HHOF-IIHF Images
31 March 1997. Sort of history was made at the 1997 Women’s World Championship in cities throughout Southern Ontario.

History was actually already made before the first game that year when China and Russia took to the ice in Hamilton on the afternoon of 31st March 1997.

Of course, before the teams come onto the ice, the on-ice officials entered the playing area, to skate around and warm up, check the nets, and get ready to officiate the game at hand.

On this day, though – and for the first time – the officials were all women: referee Marina Zenk of Canada, and her linesmen, Ulrike Kahlert (GER) and Eszter Voros (HUN).

The decision by the IIHF to go to women only on-ice officials was in large measure to develop a program that was consistent with the officials as with the players. It was a slow process because the decision required time. Deciding to have all women officials and training the necessary number from countries around the world were tow different things.

IIHF referee supervisors had to recruit suitable candidates, teach them, give them experience at lower levels, and finally show in them the confidence to do the job at the top level of senior play, not just in early, preliminary-round games but medal games of the highest importance.

Since 1997 many women have distinguished themselves. Although Great Britain is not a strong hockey nation at the top level, Joy Tottman holds the records for officiating 10 games at Olympics and 20 at Women’s Worlds to date, including the gold-medal game in Sochi. She has held the whistle at all three levels of the women’s game, including WW18. Tottman gets her skills naturally, as her late father was also a referee.

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Aina Hove from Norway, Anu Hirvonen of Finland and German Nicole Hertich have all established themselves as excellent officials for their combination of expert skating, knowledge of the rules, ability to interpret and judge the game, and respect from the players for all of the aforementioned talents.

And for the IIHF, the women’s officiating program is as important for the women’s game as the men’s is for the men – and that’s as women’s hockey should expect.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of women's hockey in the IIHF, writer Andrew Podnieks is counting down the top 25 stories in women's international hockey history. One story each day will appear until the Number 1 story is unveiled the morning of the gold-medal game of the 2015 Women's Worlds in Malmo, Sweden, on April 4.

Earlier Top 25 Stories:
#22: Shannon Miller recruits Euros for NCAA
#23: IIHF introduces junior event for women
#24: Zorn a goalie and skater both
#25: Russia-Switzerland a dandy display in 2011


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