Team USA partners with University of Utah Health Care

Posted at 6:44 PM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 20:44:29-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Team USA recruited University of Utah Health Care to take care of its elite athletes.

Utah's Olympic legacy began in 2002 with the Winter Olympics. Today, the tradition lives on with a big announcement from the U.S. Olympic Committee. They're designating UUHC as one of its national medical centers.

"The University of Utah providers and health care administrators will serve Olympic athletes from primary care, to mental health, to the usual orthopedic wear and tear and beyond," said Dr. Vivian Lee, senior VP at University of Utah Health Sciences.

Scott Blackman, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said the university was a natural fit.

"From coaches, to trainers, to facility managers, to administrators, to the many professionals who make up our sports medicine team, every single role is important, and we're happy today to call you teammates," Blackman said.

UUHC is the first academic medical center to join Team USA. Athletes will have access to educational opportunities, and they'll benefit from research conducted at the university.

Right now, they're studying the Zika Virus as athletes prepare for the Rio Olympics this summer.

Athletes say this type of support is crucial to their success.

"It's those people who are behind the scenes that put us back together and give us the skills and everything to get us back on the mountain, so we can compete at our best," said Shannon Bahrke, Olympic Freestyle Mogul Olympic Medalist.

"I am so excited about this partnership, that when I first heard about it, I contemplated coming back out of retirement," joked Muffy Davis, Paralympian Gold Medalist.

With renewed Olympic talks, Olympic Gold Medalist Derek Parra thinks Utah could make history again.

"It's just a perfect connection going forward," he said. "Hopefully, another games bid in 2026."

The University of Utah Health Care is the third national medical center to join the network. The others are in New York and in Vail, Colorado.