Home / Trending / Utah’s Olympic melting pot: Utahns compete for multiple countries in Pyeongchang Games

Utah’s Olympic melting pot: Utahns compete for multiple countries in Pyeongchang Games

Pyeongchang, South Korea • Akwasi Frimpong has been taking complete benefit of his first Olympic revel in. The skeleton slider says no person in the athlete village has traded extra collectable pins. He danced and cried as he led his nation into Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony final week, waving the pink, yellow and inexperienced flag of Ghana.

“It’s very emotional to carry the flag of your country,” stated Frimpong, who would be the first Ghanaian to ever compete in an Olympic skeleton race. “There are millions of people back home watching me, and I am giving them hope.”

There have been a minimum of two folks looking at from where he calls house now. His spouse and Nine-month-old daughter tuned into Frimpong’s historical second, looking at on a tv set in Salt Lake City.

You can cross to with regards to any venue at those Olympics — from the halfpipe in Jeongseon to the sliding observe in Pyeongchang to the skating oval in Gangneung — and in finding somebody with an 801 or 435 house code. Their tales and adventure to the Games are as other because the flags they wave, however their paths all go in Utah.

“I call myself a Colombian-Utahn,” says cross-country skier Sebastian Uprimny.

Growing up in South America, Uprimny turned into enamored of the speculation of competing for his nation in the Winter Olympics after looking at a film referred to as “Jamaica Bajo Cero.” The identify interprets actually as “Jamaica Under Zero.” Most folks understand it as “Cool Runnings,” Disney’s telling of the primary Jamaican Olympic bobsled group.

UTAH’S INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC CONNECTIONS

Snorri Einarsson • Cross-country snowboarding, Iceland (University of Utah graduate)

Dominic Demschar • Alpine snowboarding, Australia (University of Utah graduate, grew up in Park City)

Akwasi Frimpong • Skeleton, Ghana (Former Utah Valley University observe & box athlete)

Sebastian Uprimny • Cross-country snowboarding, Colombia (Salt Lake City resident)

Bubba Newby • Freeskiing, Ireland (Part of Park City Ski & Snowboard Club)

Liz Swaney • Freeskiing, Hungary (Part of Park City Ski & Snowboard Club)

Isabel Atkin • Freeskiing, Great Britain (Part of Park City Ski & Snowboard Club)

Seamus O’Connor • Snowboarder, Ireland (Part of Park City Ski & Snowboard Club)

Adam Lambert • Snowboardcross, Australia (Part of Park City Ski & Snowboard Club)

Uprimny moved to Utah to are living with an uncle and learn about English in 2001, simply earlier than the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. During the Games, he labored as a translator for some French newshounds, serving to them quilt, amongst different sports activities, cross-country snowboarding.

Uprimny put his dream on a again burner for some time as he began a circle of relatives and labored to construct his trade, Inlingua Utah. Then he made up our minds a couple of 12 months and a part in the past it used to be now or by no means. He devoted himself to a coaching routine and financed journeys to Turkey and Finland to qualify as Colombia’s first-ever Olympian in cross-country snowboarding.

He is one among 4 Colombian athletes competing in those Games. Two others, speedskaters Pedro Caucil and Laura Gomez, have lived in Utah for about two years, coaching on the Utah Olympic Oval and getting ready for the Pyeongchang Olympics.

To ship him off correctly to Pyeongchang, Uprimny’s family and friends threw him a birthday celebration final week at Pizza Nono in Salt Lake’s ninth and ninth group.

“I’m representing my country,” he stated, “but I’m a local.”

In Ireland, folks name Brendan Newby “the Corker from Cork.” Back in Orem, everyone simply calls him Bubba.

The 21-year-old used to be born in Ireland, the place his father used to be a professor at a college. The Newbys moved again to Utah when Bubba used to be a kid. He realized to ski together with his circle of relatives at Park City — and he taught himself his first freestyle tips by way of looking at YouTube movies.

With best an out of doors probability of creating the U.S.’s halfpipe group, Newby now could be the usage of his twin citizenship to compete for Ireland.

“But growing up in Utah really made all this possible,” he stated. “Having such just right groups and coaching amenities in my yard makes an enormous distinction. All the 2002 Olympic venues are nonetheless used as coaching amenities, in order that supplies world-class amenities to get the whole lot dialed in. In Utah, we’re surrounded by way of Olympians and it truly is helping seeing folks that experience completed what I’m looking to accomplish grow to be extra accessible.

“The spirit of the 2002 Olympic Games remains to be alive and neatly in Utah, and it has so much to do with why I sought after to grow to be an Olympian.”

Those amenities draw in athletes from world wide — from Iceland, Hungary and Great Britain — to the Wasatch Front. Icelandic cross-country skier Snorri Einarsson is a University of Utah graduate. So is Australian alpine skier Dominic Demschar.

“I think the facilities are just better than anywhere else,” Demschar stated all through a forestall in Park City earlier than heading to his 2nd Olympics. “People are really taking advantage of it.”

Frimpong’s adventure took him from Ghana to the Netherlands. He educated to grow to be a sprinter and, after a decadelong immigration combat, left for the United States on a observe scholarship at Utah Valley University. Frimpong helped finance his Olympic dream by way of promoting vacuums door to door. Now he desires to promote one thing else.

“The job is to fulfill my dream, to break barriers; the job is to write history for Ghana as the first skeleton athlete; and the job is to gain experience for the 2022 Olympics because this is not going to be my last Olympics,” he stated.

Frimpong began to are living that dream final week, together with his circle of relatives looking at again in Salt Lake City.

“They are going watch it at home,” he stated earlier than marching into Olympic Stadium, “and have a bit of a tear, and I’ll probably have a tear myself.”

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