Jason Gunnlaugson joining the Russians


Jason Gunnlaugson

I’m not sure if this is what young curler Jason Gunnlaugson grew up dreaming about. But now that the Manitoba native has been recruited by the Russian federation to be a full-time curler and train to be the country’s entry in the next Olympics, it creates a very interesting dilemma. Could he possibly pass up the chance to be paid handsomely ($100k a year) to curl professionally and compete in the next games, even if it meant vying for a medal with another country?

It’s a tough question to be sure.

The Winnipeg Sun has been following the story closely and updates can be found here, here and here.

Columnist Gary Engstrom probably said it best with this observation:

Don’t misunderstand, the target of my venom here is not Gunnlaugson, Richter, and Forrest for making the deal. In truth, most of us would have been hard-pressed to refuse such a lucrative offer to trade nation for personal gain.

No, the real jerks are Russian Olympic officials for stooping to such lengths and using loopholes in International Olympic Committee rules to hire mercenaries. Their goal is to win medals at any cost and maybe, just maybe, trick the Russian population into thinking they know what they’re doing.

What do you think? What would you do if you were in his shoes? An how do you feel about the sanctity of the Olympic Games when countries stoop to these antics to try and buy medals?

I’d be interested in your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • You can’t fault the young for going after what appears to be the preverbial carrot. The problem is the Olympic organizers themselves. As soon as they opened up (for example) hockey and basketball etc. to professionals, they allowed this to happen. I would like to see the Olympics back to what they were supposed to be – for amateurs – not professionals. It has become a huge business (and probably has to be)and not what I believe to be in the spirit of the Olympics – go Canada go.

  • How is this any different than Daniel Igali leaving the Nigerian wrestling team at the 94 Commonwealth Games (he was their captain) to compete for Canada. It was nice that he won Olympic gold for Canada but his current job is coach of the Nigerian National Wrestling Team.

    Daniel Igali simply saw that there were more opportunities available to him by competing for Canada.

    Additionally, Mark McKoy represented Canada at numerous events, including the ’88 & ’92 Olympics (where he won gold in the 110m hurdles). Then he competed for Austria in the ’96 Olympics.

    Jason Gunnlaugson is now seeing similar opportunities in competing for Russia.

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