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Ukrainian Olympic curling athletes to stay and train in Utah

Posted at 9:47 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 00:11:35-04

KEARNS, Utah — Polina Putintseva is thousands of miles away from her family.

“They're talking every day," her translator told FOX 13. "They're really grateful that they have this opportunity to communicate every day. Her family's super happy that she was able to come here, especially to America."

Curling takes Yaraslov Shchur’s mind off of thinking about his brother and mom, who are still in Ukraine, his translator told us.

“When he's on the ice, he's able to really focus and not think about that, so he's able to perform at his best," the translator said.

The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation reached out to the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine two months ago to offer Utah’s facilities to displaced athletes. Last week, nine Olympic curling athletes from Ukraine arrived in Salt Lake City to stay for the next few months. In two weeks, 40 freestyle skiers, coaches and family members will arrive to stay and train in Park City.

“Their country and their families are in the middle of a conflict," said Colin Hilton, the president and CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation. "And that was our thinking, to say, ‘Can we provide a safe and warm and welcoming environment for them to still do those little things to help the team keep focused on training and get their minds off of this horrible conflict that's going on?’"

The curling team will be practicing at the Olympic Oval in Kearns and staying at the University of Utah campus. All of the athletes' needs will be fully covered by the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation and the Community Foundation of Utah.

“When they first pulled up here at the oval and saw the U.S. flag and the Ukrainian flag, they just kind of leaped for joy and said, 'Yes, we feel like we're at home,'" said Fraser Bullock, the president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Olympic Games.