By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

May 7 - A trio of Canadian curlers, led by Jason Gunnlaugson (pictured), have opened negotiations to take out Russian citizenship and be part of a team to represent the country at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

Gunnlaugson, a 25-year-old from Manitoba, and teammates Tyler Forrest, 29, and Justin Richter, 25, are talking to the Russian Curling Federation about sealing a deal that would see them move to Moscow part-time and curl under the Russian flag.

Under the radical plan - which is sure to be controversial - is for the Canadian trio to be joined by two Russian curlers in the hope of them winning a medal at Sochi.

Curling has little tradition in Russia and the country's men has never qualified for the Olympics.

Gunnlaugson, Forrest and Richter have already visited Moscow to discuss the scheme, which would include them becoming Russian citizens and having to spend at least 60 days a year there.

Gunnlaugson's team qualified for this year's Canadian Olympic trials but finished eighth.

Gunnlaugson told the Winnipeg Free Press: "Our goal is to be the best team in the world.

"This will give us a chance to curl full time and train full time and to get the international competition that is so hard to get.

"Our goal is to compete and earn a spot for Sochi.

"This is a chance to compete full time and to promote the sport in another country.

"It's also a great cultural opportunity - the chance to learn another language and spend some time in a very interesting country."

The chain of events that led to the move started last November when Russia were trying to negotiate a contract with Hans Wuthrich, the curling ice technician who oversaw the sheets at Vancouver 2010,  to be a facility consultant for the 2014 Olympics.

While in Russia, he was told they were looking to do more in Russia to train their curlers, and he was asked what Canadian coaches might be available.

Wuthrich suggested his wife, Patti, who was the technical director for the Manitoba Curling Association from 1981 until 1996.

The original plan was for her to train Russian curlers in Canada but the idea of hiring a group of overseas players grew more attractive after Russia's poor performance in Vancouver.

Wuthrich said: "I wasn’t necessarily going after anyone in particular.

"I was just going after some players that definitely would be able to assist in training the athletes, and I wanted to make sure they were students of the game.

"The whole goal behind this is to grow the sport in Russia."

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