Konstantin Olenin is one of the top officials in the KHL. He’s been in the league since 2007, with 241 regular season and 49 playoff games under his belt. Olenin has tons of international experience, having worked the World Championships from 2010-2013, the 2014 Spengler Cup tournament, and various EuroHockey Tour events each year from 2010-2013. The KHL named Olenin one of their top officials for the 2012-13 season. He recently worked the league’s 2014 All Star Game.
We spoke with him just before the start of the Olympics.
One of the biggest moments of Olenin’s officiating career came in working the IIHF World Championship Gold Medal game in 2013. He refereed Sweden’s 5-1 victory over Switzerland at Globe Arena in Stockholm.
“I’d worked four World Championships, and this was my first final game,” said Olenin. “I was very happy to be named to work the Gold Medal match. The difference between this game and the others in the tournament is, of course, all the players, referees, and spectators are at the peak of emotions. This is a very important game. All of the referees are examined under the microscope — the cost of failure is very big.”
It was an evenly called match, with effectively three minor penalties per side. There was also a misconduct given to Swiss skater Andres Ambuhl for an illegal check to the head, along with a tripping minor to Switzerland late in the third with the game already well out of reach for the Swiss.
This is Olenin’s first trip to the Olympics. “I am full of emotions,” he said. “I’m training and getting ready.” The training portion started back in the fall at Olympic orientation camp, when the IIHF pulled together its top officials to help determine which officials would be representing their respective countries at Sochi. While Olenin’s working his first Olympics, he has years of international experience — and will be paired up with some familiar faces on the ice. “All of the IIHF referees I know. We’ve worked a lot on different tournaments. The guys from the NHL I know from the training camp.”
Getting ready to work an Olympics match is no different than for Olenin than a game in the KHL or in an international tournament. “My preparation for the games, it is a certain routine. It depends on the game.” One challenge of working an international tournament is a lack of familiarity with the players on the ice. Olenin does his homework in scouting the teams he’ll see. “I look at the teams and players,” Olenin said. “At the Olympics, I know many of the players. I know many have played or are playing in the KHL, or whom I judged at the World Championships.”
Olenin’s already suited up for some important games, including Canada/Austria, Slovakia/Slovenia, and Czech Republic/Sweden. As the tournament progresses, look for Olenin to continue to get key assignments. As one of the top international officials, he has a shot at working the Gold Medal game.
Olenin is treasuring this opportunity to officiate at the Olympics in his home country. “I am very glad that I made it to the Olympics,” Olenin said. “I think it will be a great time!”