Haverhill, MA – College Hockey America linesman Laura Johnson has been named to the women's ice hockey officiating staff for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, according to an announcement made earlier this month by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
Johnson, in her second year with CHA, said she found out at the end of November that she had been selected, but had to wait for the official announcement to share her excitement.
"I was out with a group of friends, and I was so excited on the inside, but I couldn't tell any of them. I was on cloud nine, but I had to keep it to myself," she said.
She was selected based on her performance at the IIHF World Championships, which she worked in 2012 and 2013.
"Laura is one of our finest linesman," said CHA Commissioner Robert DeGregorio. "She has definitely earned this opportunity. We are proud to have one of our officials selected to participate in the Olympics, and excited for her to have this experience. I am confident that she will do a fine job, and will represent College Hockey America well in Sochi."
Johnson grew up in Texas, and started playing hockey at 15. She got her start in officiating at 18 at the suggestion of a friend, as a way to stay involved in the sport. That same friend was the first person Johnson told that she had been picked for the Sochi Games.
"I wasn't sure I was going to like it at first," she said about officiating. "I ended up loving it."
Johnson took two years off to play college hockey at Division-III Concordia, but ultimately returned to officiating. In 2008, she attended a USA Hockey Elite camp, which she credits with being the start of her journey to the Olympics.
"That was when I saw that I could really take this somewhere. It was a goal that I could work towards," she said.
"Laura is one of our top officials, and it's nice to see her rewarded for all of her hard work," said CHA Supervisor of Officials Eugene Binda.
"I know this is something that Laura has wanted for a while. She has worked as a referee in the past, but last season she asked if she could focus on line work because she had her mind set on making it to the Olympic staff. I'm glad that she has been able to fulfill that dream. She is a pleasure to have on staff, and we wish her all the best in Sochi."
Johnson began focusing on work as a linesman at the suggestion of her supervisors, in order to best prepare for a chance at the Olympic staff. Despite her international experience, Johnson expects the level of competition to be raised on the Olympic stage.
" I think the level of intensity will be even higher than we have seen at the world championships and other tournaments," she said. "You will see that same level of intensity from the officials. Before the games, we'll all be studying our rules books and escalating our physical and mental preparations so that we're able to work at our highest level as well. I think the games played at the Olympics will be very exciting and entertaining for the spectators."
Aside from the actual officiating, Johnson said she is thrilled about the Olympic experience as a whole.
"Just to have that feeling of representing your country at an Olympic event," she said. "I can't even imagine... and to do it with the same group of officials that I've worked with and become friends with over the last few years, it's really special."
In preparation for the games, Johnson, along with fellow Olympic officials Lish Hanrahan and Erin Blair will work the final game of the US Women's National Team "Take On The World" tour against Canada on December 28th in St. Paul, Minnesota. The game will be televised on NBC Sports starting at 4 p.m. EST. The Olympic women's ice hockey schedule will kick off on Saturday, February 8th at Shayba Arena in Sochi.