Tuesday night wasn’t the first time Anna Wiegand took the ice alongside her husband, Marc. It was, though, the first time the pair skated together to officiate a game in the Swiss League.
Wiegand made her Swiss League debut Tuesday, becoming the first woman to officiate a Swiss League game. She did so with her husband – veteran referee Marc Wiegand – wearing stripes beside her. The duo handled a match between EHC Winterthur and HC La Chaux-de-Fonds.
“It was a great experience for both of us,” said Marc Wiegand. “Anna was certainly a little more nervous than me before this meeting because it was her first match at this level. I had imagined how I could help her in certain situations, but I did not have to do it. I had to concentrate on my match. Everything went well and she really did a great job for her debut. “
The 34-year-old Wiegand (née Eskola), a native of Finland, has twelve years of officiating experience. She’s previously worked the IIHF World Women’s Championship, refereeing the finals in 2016 and 2017. She also donned the stripes for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. She has also recently officiated games in the Swiss junior leagues.
“The fact that I was on ice with Marc was more of an advantage,” said Anna. “I watch all his games, know how he’s ticking, what he’s looking at, how he’s moving. We harmonized and communicated well.”
The Wiegands handed out twelve minutes in penalties in a 3-2 Winterthur victory.
The two clubs treated Anna like any other official.
“I was very surprised,” said Anna. “It did not matter if Marc or I had the punishment. The players reacted exactly the same.”
“What surprised us the most was that the teams really approached this meeting as if nothing had happened: neither the players nor the players made remarks to us, either before or after the meeting. match. It’s a good sign because it shows that we were seen as a referee duo and not a married couple leading a hockey game.”
“There are games where I have to give 150 percent, make me bigger than I am, to get the same acceptance as my male colleague. But once I have them, people see that I can and they gain the trust, that is not an issue anymore. I think there are even people who then have more respect, because they realize that my way was not easy. “
Wiegand is the first woman to officiate a game in the Swiss League, but she is not the only top official working men’s hockey.
In Germany, referee Nicole Hertrich also officiates in the DEL. In North America, Katie Guay will become the first woman to referee the NCAA’s Beanpot Tournament; Guay, along with Erin Blair and Jamie Huntley, has officiated games in the SPHL.
“I am very happy that we can promote a woman referee to this level with Anna Wiegand,” said Andreas Fischer, Swiss League Director of Officiating. “The fact that she will lead the match with her husband will make this game even more special. As a professional referee, Marc is in charge of bringing the young referees to the highest level by supporting them and sharing their great experience with them.”
“We are very proud to have a pioneer in the participation of women referees in the men’s leagues.”
Congratulations to Anna on her terrific career and on this groundbreaking achievement, both for her personally and for women officials worldwide.