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俄罗斯引进冰壶外援计划破产始末

更新时间:2014-2-11 14:56:39 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

How Russia's Plot For Mercenary Curlers Failed
俄罗斯引进冰壶外援计划破产始末

The Russian men's curling team lost in its Olympic debut against Britain on Monday, and expectations for its first foray in the Winter Games here are running low. A report published by a Russian state-run news agency noted that while the women's national curling team is 'beautiful' and 'famous,' the men's team is 'a completely different thing.'

The Russian men have little history with the sport, having qualified for the Olympics only because they are the host country. And as the report added, 'The first pancake is always lumpy.' But Russia's lowly status in men's curling is also the byproduct of a failed experiment in 2010: hiring Canadians.

Under pressure to boost their medal hopes for 2014, Russian officials devised a plan during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver to hire three Canadian curlers with no ties to the country, turn them into Russians and trot them out in Sochi. How the Canadian experiment came together and subsequently fell apart is indicative of the delicate balance Russia faced in trying to win as many medals as possible without offending national pride.

The practice of importing Olympic talent isn't unique to curling or to Russia. Victor An, a short-track speedskater who won three gold medals for his home country of South Korea in 2006, became a Russian citizen in 2011 and is now a gold-medal favorite. But the strategy was more problematic for Russian curling officials, who pulled the plug on the Canadian experiment less than a year after it began.

'A lot of the backlash they heard from inside their own government and country was, 'Why can't we do this with Russians? Why do we have to bring in Canadians to do this?'' said Justin Richter, one of the Canadians who became part of Team Russia in 2010. 'But they don't want to be embarrassed in their home country, either. I don't think this team will be an embarrassment, but they're going to be in for a tough go.'

That view was echoed in interviews with several curling insiders, who agreed that while the imported Canadians were hardly as formidable as Team Canada, they would have at least given Russia a decent chance at a medal.

Instead, when asked about Russia's chances in the 10-team tournament Monday, current Russia coach Roger Schmidt, a Canadian, said: 'Realistically, we're the 10th-best team here.'

Which is why the Canadian experiment was launched in the first place.

During the last Winter Games, Dimitry Svischev, head of the Russian Curling Federation, approached a Canadian coach named Patti Wuthrich about the possibility of coaching the Russian men. First, Wuthrich said the plan was to hire her and one Canadian curler. But before long, Svischev was asking for three Canadians to pair with two Russians.

'They wanted to have podium finishes,' Wuthrich said, 'and he felt that the only way that was going to happen was if he imported some players.'

Svischev, who didn't respond to a request for comment through a spokesperson, had only three criteria, according to Wuthrich. He wanted the curlers to be young, single and among the top 10 in Canada, where an estimated 1.3 million of the world's 1.5 million curlers reside.

After a few others turned down the offer, Wuthrich recruited Richter, Jason Gunnlaugson and Tyler Forrest, who were on the team that finished eighth in the 2009 Canadian Olympic trials. The three of them signed contracts under which they would become Russian citizens and be paid annual salaries of just under $100,000 to curl full-time for Russia.

'It was a weird sort of dream job,' Gunnlaugson said.

But when they arrived in Moscow to begin training with their two Russian teammates and compete against other Russians in an event, they were met with hostility. 'We knew enough of the other curlers that we could say hi to,' Richter said. 'They weren't talking to us anymore. You could tell there was animosity.'

In November 2010, Richter, Gunnlaugson, Forrest and their Russian teammates won the Russian national championships. They received full Team Russia uniforms and clothing, which they would have worn at the European championships the following month and eventually, in Sochi. The experiment, it seemed, was a success.

But not long after that, Wuthrich received a call from Svischev's assistant. All along, the curlers were unwilling to renounce their Canadian citizenship.

Though Russia doesn't officially recognize dual citizenship, Wuthrich said Svischev had assured them that obtaining Russian citizenship wouldn't be a problem. Now, she was being told they wouldn't receive citizenship. The experiment was over.

'That was the reason they told us, but honestly, I think what happened is there was a lot of animosity building up,' Wuthrich said. 'If they wanted to get them citizenship, they would have gotten it.'

On Monday, while Russia opened with 7-4 loss, the three Canadians were back at their day jobs. Gunnlaugson works for a graphics company in Vernon, British Columbia, Richter manages a bank in Winnipeg and Forrest works for an automation company in Winnipeg.

Richter still has souvenirs from his Team Russia stint -- the jacket, the contract he signed and so on. But when he turns on the television to watch the Games, he said, 'I won't be pulling out much of that. No, I'm going to be rooting for the red and white of Canada.'

俄罗斯男子冰壶队周一在对阵英国队的冬奥会首秀中败北,不过俄罗斯国内对男子冰壶队第一次征战冬奥会的成绩也没抱太大希望。俄罗斯国家新闻机构发布的一篇报道称,虽然俄罗斯女子冰壶队不仅人长得漂亮,名气也大,但男子冰壶队则完全是另外一回事。

俄罗斯男子冰壶项目的历史并不长,俄罗斯队能够参加此次冬奥会也只是因为俄罗斯是主办国。正如上述报道所称,万事开头难。但是2010年俄罗斯聘请加拿大运动员的尝试失败也是造成该国男子冰壶项目落后的元凶之一。

为了增加获得2014年冬奥会奖牌的希望,俄罗斯官员在2010年温哥华冬奥会期间拿出了一个计划,聘请三名加拿大冰壶队员,让他们入籍俄罗斯并出战索契冬奥会。这项计划构思的过程以及最终的失败表明,俄罗斯需要在赢得更多奖牌同时又不伤害民族自豪感之间找到一种微妙的平衡。

无论是对冰壶运动还是俄罗斯而言,引进外国奥运会优秀运动员的做法都不罕见。例如,曾在2006年为韩国夺得三枚金牌的短道速滑运动员维克多•安(Victor An)在2011年加入俄罗斯籍,目前是争夺金牌的热门人选。但对于俄罗斯主管冰壶项目的官员来说,这项策略存在很多问题,他们在启动不足一年后终止了这项聘请加拿大人的项目。

2010年加入俄罗斯队的加拿大人贾斯汀•里希特(Justin Richter)说:“他们从自己的政府和国家听到了许多反对的声音,?什么不能训练俄罗斯人打冰壶??什么一定要请加拿大人?他们也不想在本国感到窘迫。我不认为这个队伍会让人难堪,但这个过程是很艰难的。”

上述观点得到了几位内部人士的赞同,他们认为虽然靠引进加拿大运动员很难建立起一支像加拿大那么强大的队伍,但至少能够让俄罗斯有能力冲击奖牌。

而现在当被问到在周一的10个参赛队伍中俄罗斯胜算几何时,俄罗斯队现任教练、加拿大人罗杰•施密特(Roger Schmidt)说:“说实话,我们是实力最弱的。”

那么当初引进加拿大运动的原因是什么呢?

在上一届冬奥会期间,俄罗斯冰壶联合会(Russian Curling Federation)会长Dimitry Svischev找到了加拿大教练帕蒂•乌斯里奇(Patti Wuthrich),问她能否出任俄罗斯男子冰壶队教练。乌斯里奇称,最初的计划是聘请她和一名加拿大冰壶运动员。但不久后,Svischev改变了主意,找到了三名加拿大运动员与两名俄罗斯运动员搭档。

乌斯里奇说:“他们希望获得奖牌,Svischev觉得只有引进一些国外运动员才能实现这一愿望。”

Svischev没有回复通过其发言人提出的置评请求。据乌斯里奇说,Svischev只有三条标准。他希望冰壶队员年轻、单身,并且在加拿大能跻身前10。全球150万名冰壶球员中,估计有130万居住在加拿大。

在另外几人拒绝了邀请之后,乌斯里奇招募了里希特、杰森·贡劳格森(Jason Gunnlaugson)和泰勒·福雷斯特(Tyler Forrest),2009年加拿大奥运会选拔赛中,他们所在的队伍排名第八。他们三人签定了合约,其中规定他们将成为俄罗斯公民,年薪接近10万美元,全职为俄罗斯参加冰壶赛事。

贡劳格森说,这是一种奇特的理想职业。

但他们抵达莫斯科、与另外两名俄罗斯队友一起开始训练,并在一次比赛中对阵其他俄罗斯队伍时,他们却遭遇了敌意。里希特说,我们认识很多其他的冰壶队员,本来我们都会跟他们打招呼。但他们不再跟我们交谈,你能看出来其中的憎恶之意。

2010年11月,里希特、贡劳格森、福雷斯特和他们的俄罗斯队友赢得了俄罗斯全国锦标赛的冠军。他们获得了全套的俄罗斯队队服,他们本来会在接下来的一个月身穿俄罗斯队服出战欧洲锦标赛,并最终征战索契冬奥会。这次的尝试看起来是成功了。

但在那之后不久,乌斯里奇接到了Svischev一名助手的电话。那几位冰壶队员一直不愿意放弃加拿大国籍。虽然俄罗斯官方并不认可双重国籍,但乌斯里奇说,Svischev曾向他们保证说,获得俄罗斯公民身份不成问题。现在,她得知他们不能获得公民身份。这次试验宣告结束。

乌斯里奇说,这是他们告诉我们的原因,但老实说,我觉得实际情况是敌意情绪越来越多。如果他们想让这些队员获得公民身份,他们本来已经可以办到了。

周一,俄罗斯冰壶队以7-4的比分开局失利时,三名加拿大冰壶队员回到了他们日常的工作中。贡劳格森在加拿大不列颠哥伦比亚省的弗农市为一家制图公司工作,里希特在温尼伯管理一家银行,福雷斯特在温尼伯的一家自动化公司供职。

里希特仍然保留着短暂的俄罗斯冰壶队生涯的纪念品——外套、他所签的合约等等。但当他打开电视观看冬奥会时,他说,我不会为此想太多;不,我还是会支持加拿大。

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