Lacey Senuk’s goal of working as an on-ice official at the Winter Olympics seemed like a pipe dream - until she got the call.
The Level 5 official from St. Albert will be skating the XXIV Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China as a referee in the Women’s Hockey competition.
“It’s the pinnacle of officiating for myself. It’s an unbelievable honour to be selected as part of the group that’s going. It’s been a unique couple years and to finally reach that goal is pretty surreal,” said Senuk.
Senuk is no stranger to the international stage. Her experience working IIHF tournaments, including the 2021 Women’s World Championships, placed her on a preliminary list of officials being considered for the Olympics. After traveling to Denmark for fitness testing and classroom work in November, Senuk was designated to Czechia to work an Olympic qualifier tournament before the IIHF officially named her as a referee on January 7.
“It’s always been a pipe dream just because it’s every four years, it’s a very small group of officials going. But now that dream has come true,” said Senuk. “You don’t have the words, it’s pretty indescribable. The pipe dream has come alive and it’s come to fruition.”
With less than a month until the tournament begins, Senuk’s preparation is unusual compared to her normal routine. Under normal circumstances, Senuk would work games right up to when she leaves. Due to the COVID-19 environment, she is instead turning her focus to her off-ice fitness, studying the rulebook, limiting her interactions to just her “bubble”, and hitting the ice when it is convenient for her.
“I owe a lot of gratitude to Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada for where I am and the association that I started with in St. Albert,” said Senuk. “If it wasn’t for the individuals involved there that saw potential and helped me, it’s hard to say, would I be where I am today? You don’t know but I am very thankful for the part that every single person has played in my development as an official.”
In total, 21 females will skate the women’s tournament, making it the second Olympics that will be entirely officiated by female officials. Women’s hockey action begins on February 3, and continues through until the gold medal game on February 17.