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From speedskating to World Cup official, Canada's senior referee ready for anything

03/30/2015 12:02 EDT | Updated 05/30/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Carol Anne Chenard has the kind of resume that makes you wonder what you've been doing with your life.

A former short-track speedskater for Canada who has six World Cup medals and once held the world record in the 3,000 metres, Chenard has a PhD in microbiology and immunology from McGill University.

The 38-year-old from Ottawa, who speaks English, French and Spanish, works for the federal government in Health Canada. Her expertise is compliance and enforcement, regulating companies whose products involve controlled substances.

And she is an elite soccer referee, working in the cauldron of international play.

Chenard is one of four Canadians named to the officiating pool for the Women's World Cup in Canada this summer. She is joined by 36-year-old Michelle Pye of Kamloops, B.C., on the list of 29 referees.

There are also 44 assistant referees, including 32-year-old Marie-Josee Charbonneau of Mascouche, Que., and 30-year-old Suzanne Morisset of Beauport, Que.

Like players, officials are judged by their performance. Only the good ones keep going in top tournaments. Being second-guessed on a massive stage is part of the job.

"I absolutely enjoy it or else I wouldn't put myself through it," Chenard said Monday after the World Cup officials list was released.

"What I learned very early on is that pressure and stress is kind of part of the deal if you're going to go to a World Cup and be a referee. So it's just how you deal with it."

The all-female officials list represents 49 countries from Argentina to Zambia.

The 24-country World Cup runs June 6 to July 5 in Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver. Chenard will be digging deep into her vacation time, although she says her employer has been very supportive in making her absences work.

The World Cup officials were appointed by FIFA's Referees Committee.

Chenard has already taken part in two FIFA camps for officials in Europe, undergoing physical testing as well as on-field sessions. The World Cup officials will take part in two FIFA seminars prior to the tournament: April 18-24 in Zurich and in Vancouver 10 days before the opening kickoff.

The 29 referees will then be cut to 22, with the remaining seven designated support referees at the tournament.

In the meantime, she trains minimum of five days a week and submits data weekly to FIFA's fitness coaches.

Chenard was the lone Canadian referee at the 2011 World Cup in Germany, taking charge of both a quarter-final and a semifinal.

She was also the only Canadian referee at the 2012 Olympics, where her assignments included Britain versus Brazil in the group stage. The first women's international to be played at Wembley Stadium, the game drew a crowd of 70,584.

Charbonneau also officiated at the London Games.

Chenard was in charge of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup gold-medal game in Germany in 2010 and the semifinal at the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.

"Part of the job is being ready for anything," said Chenard. "You don't know what's going to happen or when your next assignment's going to be.

"Really it doesn't matter how many games you've done or how many videos or how many matches you've watched, the same thing never happens twice. That's the beauty of soccer. That's what makes it really exciting."

Chenard has previously worked in Major League Soccer, but is no longer involved because the North American league now uses only professional officials. She works in leagues such as the North American Soccer League and Ontario's League One.

Chenard, who was on the national speed skating team from 1998 to 2002, took her first officiating course as a teenager at the request of her soccer coach.

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