University of Utah welcomes Ukrainian athletes to campus
In partnership with the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, the U hosted 10 members of the Ukrainian national curling team in on-campus housing for the summer. This global humanitarian and sporting initiative aims to provide safe haven and training opportunities amid turmoil and unrest in the team’s home country.
The nine athletes and their coach arrived in Salt Lake City on May 10, before moving to campus. In the sport of curling, athletes slide stones across a sheet of ice towards a target area.
Over the next three days, the team toured their on-campus residence, Student Life Center facilities, various dining venues including Kahlert Village and Student Union, and the services available to them at the Marriott. Library. The week ended with a welcome breakfast held at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The athletes visited the Student Life Center with big eyes, smiles and visible excitement at the quality of the equipment. Visiting the J. Willard Marriott Library was met with equal enthusiasm when shown the range of services such as computer labs, gaming systems, and podcasting equipment they can use during their stay. And they didn’t want to leave the football field when visiting the stadium.
As a leader in Olympic and Paralympic sports and a champion of refugee resettlement worldwide, Utah is uniquely qualified to provide world-class training and stability to these athletes, coaches and family members. An estimated 65,000 refugees, former refugees and their children live in Utah, according to a 2021 report by Utah WorkForce Refugee Services. Athletes from more than 30 countries train or compete in the state each year.
“Utah has a long and proud tradition of welcoming refugees to our state,” Utah Governor Spencer Cox said. “This is an incredible opportunity to support our Ukrainian friends as they pursue their goals in sport and in life.”
All aspects of the group’s transportation, accommodation, training, and meal costs will be fully covered for the duration of their stay through a public and private fundraising effort organized by the Community Foundation of Utah and the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation. Both organizations work closely with Sergey Bubka – four-time Olympian, Olympic gold medalist and senior vice president of World Athletics and chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine – to ensure that all athlete needs are met. Thanks to generous contributions like a $200,000 pledge from the Larry H. & Gail Miller Foundation as well as private donations from Matthew and Tatiana Prince, all public contributions will be doubled up to $400,000 – providing a potential of $800,000 to the Ukrainian group.
DONATE TO THE UKRAINIAN OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC SOLIDARITY FUND HERE
A second group of approximately 40 athletes, coaches and family members is expected to arrive in June with accommodations and freestyle skiing training at the Utah Olympic Park as well as additional training resources at the USANA Center of Excellence. Freestyle skiing encompasses the disciplines of jumps, moguls, freeskiing and ski-cross combining traditional skiing and acrobatics.
“I think it’s only natural and appropriate for Utah to step up and support Ukrainian winter sports teams,” said Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation CEO Colin Hilton. “We have incredible resources and a caring, hospitable community that knows when there’s a need we can help, we’re doing something about it. Our Legacy Foundation looks forward to coordinating services for these young athletes, coaches and family members from Ukraine.
Ukrainian athletes recently competed in Utah in aerials, Nordic combined and short track speed skating competitions held in Park City and Salt Lake City.
Learn more about the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation Ukraine Outreach Program.