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Former Weyburn Gold Wing selected to officiate at 2022 Olympics

“This year has been a whirlwind of opportunities for me in the officiating world," said Alex Clarke.
AlexClarke WHL web
Alex Clarke officiated at her first on-ice assignment in the WHL during a Warriors game against Regina Pats in Moose Jaw on September 17.

WEYBURN - Linesperson Alex Clarke will have another exciting highlight to add to her career, as she has been selected to officiate women’s ice hockey at the 2022 Winter Olympics, to be hosted in Beijing, China from February 3 to 20.

“I’ve been working towards this goal for several years, and it is both an honour and a dream come true that I was selected as one of the 22 women to officiate the Women’s Ice Hockey during the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games,” said Clarke.

The 28-year-old Clarke boasts extensive international experience, having been assigned to the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship, 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship (Division 1, Group B), 2018 4 Nations Cup, and 2018 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship (Division II, Group B). She played for the Weyburn Gold Wings from 2008 to 2011.

Clarke explained that the “selection process for officials (for the IIHF) is quite similar to the selection process for players, and progresses over the course of several years. I have had officiating coaches evaluating my performance since I returned to officiating in the fall of 2015.”

“Hockey Saskatchewan evaluated me at the start locally, then put my name forward to Hockey Canada for different national championship events. At those events, Hockey Canada evaluated my performance before putting my name forward for an IIHF License. Since my first event in Mexico City, in 2018, I have had officiating coaches at every single IIHF event I have worked.”

“At these events, they evaluate our on-ice skill, our communication abilities, our ability to work as a team with the other officials, alongside many other factors. I don’t think it was a singular piece of my development that stood out to the officiating coaches along the way, but rather a combination of being a strong official on the ice, and a great teammate on and off the ice,” said Clarke.

In September, Clarke had another exciting highlight to her career, when it was announced that she was the first female linesperson in WHL and Canadian Hockey League history.

“This year has been a whirlwind of opportunities for me in the officiating world. I have been both grateful and amazed at the opportunities and support that have come my direction,” said Clarke.

“I was blessed to be able to work as the first female official and linesperson in the Western Hockey League. That opportunity alone was a highlight of my career, as it was what felt like a moment in time that propelled me forward, but also that propelled the available opportunities for other women forward as well.”

“I have mostly learned how strong of a support system I have both on and off the ice; amongst the other officials that have cheered me on through all my success this year, and my friends/family that have stepped up to congratulate me, or help watch my two-year-old daughter while I am gone reffing and my husband is working a full-time job,” said Clarke. “Support and opportunity have been the two big words that have shown up in my life in 2021. I’ve also learned that I am human, and make mistakes. And that there is opportunity to learn from mistakes, and that humility is an important characteristic as one grows and achieves success as well.”

“I would consider every single opportunity that I have had this past year, highlights of my career,” added Clarke. “I honestly don’t know how any singular season can ever bring more ‘career and life highlights’ than the 2021-22 season has brought already.”

Clarke is looking forward to being on the ice for the 2022 Olympics, with the best players and officials in the world. “That’s what the Olympics is, and I am there first and foremost as an official, to ensure that the players are given the opportunity to play the game to the best of their ability.”

“I look forward to working alongside all of the other officials that have been selected. We are one large team, and though I have not had the opportunity to work alongside every official that will be there with me, I am there alongside the best female officials in the world,” added Clarke.

Officiating at the Olympics is similar to being a member of a hockey team. “We come together, practice together, and get evaluated in our games,” explained Clarke. “However, our schedules are not predetermined as the officiating coaches will decide before each game day, which officiating crew will best serve each game.” 

Clarke will follow the playbook set out by the International Olympic Committee when it comes to COVID restrictions. “Same as all participants, we are required to obtain two negative COVID tests prior to flying to Beijing. Once we land there, and every day through the duration of our time there, we will be tested. With the enhanced playbook, and negative testing requirements, there won’t be a lengthy quarantine that would require me to depart early. Thus, my time in Beijing will be approximately three weeks.”